Mobile testing in Cote-des-Neiges draws lineup as authorities aim for daily target

The most recent Montreal neighbourhood to get a mobile COVID-19 testing unit is Cote-des-Neiges, and locals seemed to jump at the chance, forming a lineup Wednesday morning to get tests.

The unit is an outfitted bus capable of performing 250 tests a day, the same as the mobile test clinics that have visited places like Verdun. Right now it's parked in the Bill-Durnan arena parking lot on Vézina Street.

Cote-des-Neiges is now a “hot spot” for the virus, says Valerie Lahaie of the CIUSSS du Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal.

Bringing the clinic there will make it easier for locals to get a test and for public officials to get a better picture of what’s happening in the area.

The process only takes a couple of minutes and doesn’t require an appointment, though people do need to meet certain criteria: they either need to have symptoms or to have been in contact with someone who was diagnosed with the virus.

“You never know, if you're asymptomatic,” said Hensy Fernandez, who showed up for a test. “Me, I have no symptoms, but you never know.” 

“It's an opportunity for everybody to just do the test, basically, without making an appointment or anything,” said Marc Oliver, a McGill student. “I think it's a great initiative.”

The lineup was a good sign for health officials, who say one of their main problems has been getting the word out about the mobile units.

Recently, officials announced plans to dismantle a testing site in Montreal North, one of the hardest-hit boroughs, because not enough people were scheduling appointments. After Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante reacted with dismay, that plan was reversed.

In Cote-des-Neiges, testing will continue until 4:00 p.m. on Friday and then it will move to a new spot in the same neighbourhood, at 3220 Appleton Ave.

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