Self-isolated Winnipeg man awaits COVID-19 test results: ‘There’s anxiety’

A Winnipeg man who has been tested for COVID-19 says waiting for the test results is the hardest part. Getty Images

Editor’s note: Chamber’s COVID-19 test was negative. 

A Winnipeg man is stuck in anxious self-isolation while awaiting the results of an initial COVID-19 test after coming down with flu-like symptoms since recently returning from an international trip.

Manitoba’s health minister declared the province’s first presumptive case of COVID-19 Thursday morning, before two more presumptive cases were confirmed late in the afternoon. The WHO declared the virus’s spread a pandemic Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg resident Ron Chambers and his wife went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a winter getaway in late February.

They got back Feb. 29 and felt fine.

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About a week later, however, Chambers’ symptoms set in. He read that the Grand Princess cruise ship — which recently saw at least 21 passengers test positive for COVID-19 — had docked in Puerto Vallarta around the time of their trip.

That’s when he got worried.

“I started to develop a sore throat, runny nose, sneezing — kind of like a cold, then it worsened to flu-like symptoms, achy bones,” Chambers said in a phone interview. “I didn’t start to develop a fever until probably [this] Tuesday, when I had hot and cold [temperatures] — that’s when my wife and I felt we should get tested for COVID-19.”

The tests at Seven Oaks Urgent Care Centre went well — the couple came prepared wearing respiratory masks over their faces, before they were isolated and received nasal swabs at the hospital.

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But it’s waiting that’s grating for Chambers.

“The experience was good, the information was good, they had that if you were an international traveler and develop these symptoms within 14 days to get tested — all that was good — it’s just waiting for the results where there seems to be a bit of a lull in the system.”

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Chambers was told they would receive the test results in 24 hours, but it’s been more than 48 hours and they’re still waiting.

Thursday morning, the chief provincial public health officer, Brent Roussin, warned test results could take between 24-48 hours.

Officials note that means 24-48 hours after the Cadham Provincial Laboratory receives samples, rather than 24-48 hours after the test is administered.

However, for Chambers, the lull between the test and the result is difficult, at one point coughing profusely during his interview with Global News.

“There’s anxiety, definitely, your life is kind of on hold until you find out exactly what it is,” Chambers said.

“I’m self-isolated and my wife is also self-isolated because of me, and she can’t return to work either until we know my results as well as her’s.”

Worse yet, accessing information has been difficult for the couple too, he said.

“We tried calling Health Links yesterday afternoon, if we could get any information on the results,” Chambers said. “We basically couldn’t get through to the number until the late evening, when we were on hold for over an hour.”

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The province notes along with its existing preparations for a possible COVID-19 outbreak, its planning for more health care space, equipment supplies and staffing, including staff for Health Links to coordinate testing and answer phones among other measures.

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