Stop calling 911 for COVID-19 testing: Waterloo CAO

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WATCH ABOVE: Health Minister warns of 'significant penalties' if COVID-19 quarantines violated – Mar 25, 2020

A Region of Waterloo official says that people have been calling 911 in an effort to get tested quicker for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

“I want to send an important reminder to citizens about the appropriate use of 911,” Waterloo Region CAO Mike Murray said Wednesday morning.

“Please do not dial 911 in an attempt to jump the queue and get tested for COVID-19.”

Murray says the region has received several reports of people misusing the emergency hotline.

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“We have heard anecdotally from our emergency first responders and 911 call takers that some people appear to be doing [this],” he explained. “And that’s really why we wanted to make this comment today.”
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The Region’s CAO says people are wasting important time and resources by calling 911.

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“It is a misuse of our valued resources and it places first responders at risk,” Murray said. So please only dial 911 in true emergencies.

“And if you do so, be honest with the first responders about your potential exposure to COVID-19.”

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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