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COVID-19 test sites in Winnipeg reach capacity Tuesday and Wednesday

Click to play video 'COVID-19 testing lines' COVID-19 testing lines
The four COVID-19 testing sites have reached capacity the last two days, forcing people to be turned away. Erik Pindera reports.

Winnipeg’s four testing sites for the novel coronavirus reached capacity by 3 p.m. Wednesday — the second day in a row the sample sites closed early.

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority confirmed Winnipeg’s sites were full and they had to turn some people away Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Manitoba’s chief public health officer said the province is planning to ramp up COVID-19 testing but could not yet say when that might be.

“We know that come fall, come respiratory virus season, we’re going to need to be able to increase our capacity for testing and each region’s working on that right now,” Dr. Brent Roussin said at a Wednesday press conference.

“We are working on… an overall testing strategy, so that involves sample collection sites, the lab, the reporting — we really are working on every aspect of that to ensure that we can ramp up the volume of testing and work on our turnaround time.”

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“Staffing scheduling issues contributed to some delays at testing sites in Winnipeg yesterday but were addressed by mid-morning, Sept 15,” the WRNA wrote in a statement to Global News Wednesday morning.

Click to play video 'Winnipeg COVID-19 testing site hits capacity for 2nd straight day' Winnipeg COVID-19 testing site hits capacity for 2nd straight day
Winnipeg COVID-19 testing site hits capacity for 2nd straight day

“Volumes at Winnipeg testing sites are increasing, with all sites having reached full capacity by mid-afternoon (Tuesday).”

Site volumes vary daily, the Wednesday morning email said, with the Main Street location generally being the busiest.

The WRHA is “actively working to find solutions to increase testing capacity and staffing within Winnipeg,” and people should continue to go get tested if they have symptoms or if they have been advised to do so by Manitoba Public Health, the authority said.

Read more: Coronavirus: Record number of tests forces Winnipeg site to redirect patients

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Roussin has been urging people who have symptoms to be tested, but says those who are asymptomatic shouldn’t be unless they’ve been directed to do so.

There were 1,447 tests done on Tuesday in Manitoba.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen said Wednesday the WRHA and Manitoba Public Health are constantly evaluating the testing situation.

“There will be additional reviews undertaken to assess our capacity and to assess the need for additional investment there,” said Friesen.

“You will even note that even into July, there were considerable efforts made to extend services, even while people were saying, ‘well, what’s the problem? The numbers are dropping.’ But we recognised that we were by no means out of the woods.

“So I would say that … Manitobans, you can have a great deal of confidence that system leaders in the regions are paying careful attention to this.”

Winnipeg’s four testing sites are MPI Drive-Thru Community Testing Site at 1284 Main St.; Pembina Testing Site at 2735 Pembina Hwy.; Thunderbird House at 705 Main St.; and St. Mary’s Testing Site at 604 St. Mary’s Rd.

— with files from Erik Pindera