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New Brunswick father calls for faster COVID-19 testing for children

Click to play video 'Dieppe father says province needs to hire additional staff for COVID-19 testing' Dieppe father says province needs to hire additional staff for COVID-19 testing
WATCH: A father says more staff need to be conducting more rapid COVID-19 testing after he was forced to stay at home for a week after his son was sent home from daycare with the sniffles. Shelley Steeves has more – Sep 28, 2020

A father in Dieppe, N.B., says the province needs to expedite COVID-19 testing for children in the province.

Early last week, Ben Clements said that his three-year-old son Xavier was sent home from daycare for what he said were symptoms of a cold, and that he was told by the daycare that his son had to be tested for COVID-19.

“We were told to call 811 and that’s when there was a huge disconnect of what had to happen after that,” Clements said. “We were really confused by the process.”

Read more: 7 active coronavirus cases remain in New Brunswick as of Monday

He says he spent hours trying to get through to 811 and when he finally did, “a lady answered and told us that was not the process and I needed to go online and fill out a form and at that point, someone would call us back.”

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That call back he says took three days.

While he waited, he said he was forced to stay home from work because his son could not go back to daycare until he got his test results back.

Click to play video 'Kids eager to get back to class after being out of school since the COVID-19 pandemic began' Kids eager to get back to class after being out of school since the COVID-19 pandemic began
Kids eager to get back to class after being out of school since the COVID-19 pandemic began – Sep 8, 2020

The entire process, he said, took a week and he is now calling on the NB Department of Health to hire more staff and open more testing sites to improve the speed of testing for children in daycare and school.

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“They have done a great job up to this point in controlling the virus. But now we need to figure out, especially with kids going back to school, how do we make these wait times a lot shorter,” he said.

With the onset of cold and flu season, Clements said parents cannot afford to be taking so much time off of work every time their kids get the sniffles.

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Xavier’s test came back negative, which was a relief, he said, but since young kids tend to get sick often, “Is this going to happen again next week?”

According to the province, 8,200 kids under the age of 10 have been tested to date.

Read more: Coronavirus: Saint John to hold smaller, outdoor Remembrance Day service

“With regards to wait times for testing for children with symptoms, we understand the parent’s concerns and we are working to address the issue,” said Bruce Macfarlane, communications director with the NB Department of Health.

In addition, testing equipment was added and additional staff have been trained to do testing, said Macfarlane, who added that most test samples are processed and their results communicated within 48 hours of sample collection, but that it can vary from day to day.

“We are confident in our testing volume so far because we are not seeing community transmission,” he said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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.

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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. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.