Test, test, test: Quebecers' new mantra as COVID-19 numbers grow

In the spring, Quebecers may have needed encouragement to get COVID-19 tests.

Not anymore, as the scene today outside one mobile testing clinic in Longueuil showed.

The clinic, which is set up at the Jean Beliveau arena, has started giving out coupons each morning to people lined up, to save them from waiting in line for hours.

But they sold out, so to speak, before noon. People were lining up before opening time.

That was even after the clinic expanded its hours. Instead of opening for three days a week, five hours a day, it’s now open four days a week for eight hours.

Yesterday Quebec officially designated four more regions as “yellow” alert zones according to the province’s system—the level designated as “early warning”—and said a few more are set to head into the orange zone soon. 

Much of the public’s reaction to growing COVID-19 numbers seems to be playing out in a huge demand for tests, including for many who don’t have symptoms.

Some of the people lining up Wednesday were parents nervous about potential COVID-19 exposure at school.

“My little girl is [back at] school and she might have caught it so I just want to make sure,” one explained.

Another person said they had a persistent cough.

Another said they were worried about a parent, not a child, explaining that “my father's in hospital in Ottawa, and you have to have a test before you go visit.”

The director of public health in Montérégie, which includes Longueuil, said it’s clear there’s more community transmission now. 

Recently, for example, 15 people went to a dinner party at a local restaurant, which led to an outbreak, she said. More than 30 people have tested positive so far. This, of course, creates worries for the classmates of all the children from the families with an infection.

“Among them, a lot got infected and other clients and employees got infected too,” said Dr. Julie Loslier, the region’s director of public health.

“This worries me.”

The locals agree: “It’s worrisome,” one woman said. She showed up to get a test even though she has no symptoms.

Testing numbers have been growing in many areas since before this week. This regional health authority for Laval passed 1,000 tests per day midway through last week, it told CTV. In the previous weeks, the number always hovered between 300 and 800 per day.

The province overall posted high numbers last week: more than 26,000 people were tested across the province on a single day, for example -- Sept. 9.

After a weekend lull, the numbers have been climbing back up, hitting 22,500 on Monday (that's the most recent date available, as numbers are always reported two days later).

Both numbers are way up from Quebec's testing capacity last spring. The province struggled to meet its goal of 14,000 tests per day in early May before the economic reopening. In early summer, it was routinely testing well below 10,000 people per day.

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