Cape Bretoners getting tested in droves as cases rise in Eastern zone

Cape Bretoners are coming out by the hundreds to get tested for COVID-19, as the region sees record active case numbers.

On Sunday, the lineup outside of Sydney’s Centre 200 backed up all the way out to George Street, with residents lining up to receive a COVID-19 test.

“We have small grandchildren, so we just want to be safe,” says Sydney resident Cheryl O'Neill.

On Saturday, a single-day high 17 new cases were identified in the Nova Scotia’s Eastern zone, which includes Cape Breton.

On Sunday, there were nine more cases identified in the Eastern zone.

With 822 active cases across the province, Cape Bretoners who turned out to get tested Sunday were taking no chances.

“Really out of concern for the people I work with, we stick close together like a family,” says Sydney resident Brent Campbell.

“We just relocated here from Prince Edward Island, where it’s been pretty low key over there as far as the number of cases goes,” say Al and Rita Forbes.

Until recently, case numbers were ‘low key’ in Cape Breton as well – one month ago, the Eastern zone was reporting just one active case and had seen 92 total cases since the pandemic began.

With 98 new cases reported between April 2 and May 2, the Eastern zone now has 67 active cases, the second most of the province’s four zones.

For some, seeing lineups at COVID-19 testing locations comes as a shock to the system and a stark indication to the new reality for the island.

“100 per cent change from a year and a half ago,” says Cheryl O'Neill. “But it’s what we’re used to now.”

“I know it’s high numbers, but you wouldn’t have them if people didn’t get tested,” adds Rita Forbes.

On Saturday, students and staff at Coxheath’s Riverview High School received a notification about an exposure at the school on April 21.

Some were told by Public Health to visit the pop-up testing site at Centre 200, while others were advised to book a test at the primary assessment centre on Grand Lake Road.

While some reported a wait of up to 45 minutes, many said the test was worth the wait, just to put their minds at ease at a time when the community is on edge.

“I’m pretty impressed with the turnout,” says Brent Campbell. “I think everybody should come out and get checked.”

“Just to get control of things,” adds Al Forbes. “Because if we don’t get control, we’re going to lose the battle.”

While many are fighting the pandemic by simply staying home, others are doing their part by coming out in droves to get tested.