'COVID is not done with you': Group urges importance of testing

As life starts to look more like it used to before COVID-19, people’s attitudes around the disease are also changing, according to an online survey by Rapid Test and Trace Canada.

“People want COVID behind them, they want to be done with this and what I say all the time is, look, you might be done with COVID, but COVID is not done with you,” said Sandy White, co-founder of Rapid Test and Trace Canada.

In an effort to prevent more COVID infections over St. Patrick’s Day and other upcoming holidays, the survey looked closely at how Canadians fared with COVID over Christmas.

  • Sixteen per cent of respondents said they tested positive for COVID-19 in December 2021.
  • Forty-one per cent say they got it in January 2022, placing most respondent COVID infections (57 per cent) during the height of the holiday season.

“I think we’ve kind of taken our foot off the gas on the testing front. Yes, great that people want to go back to living their normal lives, but there still needs to be that added caution there,” White said.

Joseph Blondeau, provincial lead for clinical microbiology with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, said testing still has a role until we are further into the pandemic and have a better grasp on where case numbers are going.

He said it’s even more crucial with the highly transmissible Omicron variant and now its BA.2 sub-variant.

“If you happen to be unfortunate enough to be in a gathering where somebody is infected with this virus, even if you’re vaccinated, you could become reinfected and if you’re not vaccinated, you could become infected and then obviously have a difficult clinical course.”

Blondeau said there is also more research available on the accuracy of rapid antigen tests.

He said people who swab their throat, the inside of their cheeks and their nose are more likely to get accurate results.

Blondeau adds that someone who is symptomatic but tests negative on a rapid test could still test positive a few days later.

The survey also looked at COVID concerns.

  • Thirty-one per cent of respondents think it’s “rude“ to ask friends and family to take a COVID test before visits.
  • Twenty-six per cent of those who gathered with others over the holidays said that they asked their family and friends to take a COVID test before meeting up.
  • Eleven per cent of Canadians who plan to visit family or friends over March break, which is marked in several provinces, plan on asking them to take a COVID test beforehand.