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Coronavirus: More than 500 people show up to mobile testing clinic in Mercier

More than 500 people show up to a mobile testing clinic in Mercier
WATCH: More than 500 people show up to a mobile testing clinic in Mercier

Hundreds of people lined up to be tested at a temporary COVID-19 screening clinic in the town of Mercier, Que., following an outbreak on the South Shore among dozens of young people.

Health board authorities said they were expecting 500 people at the Centre Roger-Tougas and the clinic was only supposed to be open for a day, but they said by noon, 600 people had either already been tested or were registered to get screened.  Others had to be turned away.

It was the first test site in South Shore community.

Read more: Coronavirus outbreak in South Shore after youth attend multiple parties: official

“As you may have seen over the last few days there have been a rise of the cases in the region,” explained local health board spokesperson Jade St-Jean, “so the public health department asked us to do a mobile clinic.”

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According to public health spokesperson Chantal Vallée, around 60 new confirmed cases are linked to two house parties in late June attended by 60 young people.  She didn’t say where the parties were held, but added that some of those who were infected went to a bar in Brossard, also on the South Shore.

Mercier Mayor Lise Michaud said on Wednesday there were 122 reported cases of the virus in Mercier alone,18 more than the week before.  Vallée said in the region infections have spiked by 218 cases in the last seven days.  Authorities think there could be more.

Wednesday morning Michaud told Global News, “there were five companies which had to close. Two have reopened like the IGA and the McDonald (restaurant) but there are other companies which remain closed because they are awaiting results of tests of infected employees.”

Read more: Quebec still falls short of testing targets amid novel coronavirus crisis

Residents who Global News spoke to say they are concerned by the outbreak

“I’m kinda nervous to be honest,” 17-year-old Annabelle Gagné admitted, “because I have my grandparents.  We’re close to them so, like, I’m kinda scared.”

With the rapid rise in new cases, some young people agree with the new Quebec government restrictions banning bars from selling liquor after midnight.

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Nineteen-year-old Cloé Tardiff claimed she went to a bar on Friday and pointed out that intoxicated people can get careless.”

“I was drunk — a little bit,” she laughed, “and maybe I was one of the persons who are less careful.  So, yeah, maybe it’s a good idea.”

Others think the recent outbreak should be a lesson to young people, especially, to take the pandemic seriously.

“I wanna make sure that nobody’s gonna get it from me,” stressed 16 year-old Fany Petropoulos, “because I can have it and I don’t know that I have it, right?”

The screening site will open again Saturday for Montérégie West residents only.  Health board officials say test results will be available within 24 and 48 hours.