Durham resident concerned over COVID-19 testing capabilities

Whitby resident says he’s been unable to get tested for COVID-19
A Whitby man says he has not been able to get tested for COVID-19. It comes as just last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said people "will not be turned away." Brittany Rosen reports.

A Whitby man who believes he has COVID-19 says he has not been able to get tested.

It comes despite the premier recently urged anyone in Ontario to get a test if they’re concerned, even if they have no symptoms.

“You will not be turned away. You don’t need an appointment, just show up to a testing centre and they will test you,” Premier Doug Ford said during an announcement on May 24.

However, one resident in the region says that statement is in stark contrast to how they are being treated.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Doug Ford says anyone who wants a COVID-19 test in Ontario will be able to get one

Gerald Parker, 52, who lives in Whitby with his wife and three kids, says he is immunocompromised and adds he’s been feeling ill for weeks.

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“I was waking up, gasping at night and also wheezing, keeping my wife up,” he said.

Parker says he still hasn’t been able to get tested. This is partly because Lakeridge Health is conducting tests by appointment only, despite the premier saying residents don’t need an appointment.

“The fact that they’re overwhelmed, they don’t have enough people to circle back and make sure it’s working well is a real concern and here in Durham, it’s been a particular issue,” he said.

The province’s website currently lists Durham’s two assessment centres as ‘appointment preferred,” when in fact an appointment is required to get tested.

Parker says Tuesday marked nine days since he initially filled out the assessment form. Still, he has yet to be tested.

READ MORE: 120 workers test positive for coronavirus in outbreak on farm near Simcoe, Ont.

The father of three says he’s concerned increased testing wait times will drive Durham residents out of the region to get tested in other cities, including Toronto.

“I almost did it yesterday,” he said.

“I’m more concerned about the fact that [the virus] transfers. We’re supposed to be staying home, keeping close and not going from one municipality to the other.”
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When asked about the contradiction with Ford’s announcement last week, the province sent Global News the original memo that was released May 24.

It says no Ontarian “will be declined a test at an Assessment Centre (either through appointment or walk-in, per the processes of each individual Assessment Centre),” implying it is up to regions or municipalities to decide how to go about testing.

In a statement, Lakeridge Health told Global News “Given the increased volume of interest in COVID-19 tests since the government announced tests were available to everyone, the current wait time is roughly four hours for Oshawa’s and approximately 24 hours for Ajax Pickering Hospital’s COVID-19 Assessment Centres.”

READ MORE: CUPE poll shows southwestern Ontario residents critical of province’s COVID-19 response