Quebec falling short of 14,000 daily COVID-19 tests goal by thousands

The Quebec government has repeatedly said ramping up COVID-19 testing to 14,000 per day is key to getting the pandemic under control, but the actual number of tests administered is falling short.

According to the latest data, the government is now administering 10,000 tests per day, a level that has been met with public criticism.

Canada's chief science advisor, Mona Nemer, has said she has questions about Quebec's plans.

A spokesperson for Nemer told CTV News that Nemer "is just trying to understand what is the plan, how they will conduct 14,000 COVID-19 tests, and what are the implementation issues."

Quebec public health director Horacio Arruda has defended the province's strategy.

“I understand people have some criticism but people only have one swath of the data,” said Arruda. “They are not aware of what quantity we have. We are using the tests the best way we can use them.”

However, Benoit Barbeau, a virologist at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, said testing even people without symptoms is vital to containing viruses.

“We should continue testing people who need to be tested but also people showing symptoms and also individuals surrounding those who have been infected,” he said. “Also, perhaps focusing on areas in Montreal where there is high susceptibility or people more susceptible to infection or complications from infection.”

Some Montrealers have found testing sites quieter than they could have imagined. Lynda Fried went for a test at the Montreal General Hospital this week and said she didn't have to wait in line.

“It boggles my mind that there's no one there,” she said.

Fried, who is over 60, has an underlying health condition and showed symptoms of COVID-19 said getting the appointment took days.

“Considering how many people are sick and how many deaths there are, why aren't we testing? Why did I have to go through speaking to four people before they could say 'Okay, go get tested?'” she said. “I had a cough, I had some of the symptoms and not only that, I was in a very tight time frame to have this done. Why did I have to go through all this?” 

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