David Hickey had COVID-19 but didn’t know it.
The Saint John councillor had planned a trip to Prince Edward Island with some friends and followed the steps to get onto the Island. When he arrived, he was given a rapid test. He said they were allowed to pass through the border check.
That’s when he was told his rapid test came back positive and he would need a PCR test before being cleared to visit. He was sent to the testing centre in Charlottetown.
Hickey was positive for COVID-19, but was entirely asymptomatic. He and his friends immediately returned to where they were staying, isolated and followed all the protocols in place on the Island.
“I got a call from Dr. Heather Morrison and I said, ‘You don’t call negative people,'” Hickey said in an interview Sunday.
“At which point, I left the Island and immediately self-isolated at home in New Brunswick, thankfully which ends Monday.”
He said he had no doubt that had he not been tested at the border, he would have continued about his regular life and potentially infected people unknowingly.
“It was certainly a shock,” Hickey said. “I’ve been double vaccinated for quite some time. I’ve been extremely prudent around Public Health measures — making sure I followed them. I made sure my bubble was made up of the same thing.”
He said it was most surprising because he couldn’t figure out where he contracted the virus — he has his suspicions but really isn’t sure.
“Thankfully anyone I’ve been in contact with up until that test has also tested negative,” he said.
Hickey remains asymptomatic and has been for his entire isolation. He said he is feeling good.
For Hickey, though, this was a lesson on the importance of using rapid tests as a first-line of defense and evidence that vaccinations work.
“I think the big thing here to remember is as we move forward, the key needs to be for people to be vaccinated,” he said.
“I am able to be self-isolated safely, healthy with no symptoms of COVID-19, because I’m vaccinated and that’s the only reason. If I was not vaccinated, I would be at significant risk of serious health complications. We’ve seen the death toll rise in New Brunswick and it’s become an increasingly serious and dire situation.”
Province using rapid tests
Public Health in New Brunswick has drawn criticism for not using rapid tests more often. According to federal numbers, which haven’t been updated in a month, 1,150,112 rapid tests were sent to the province.
On Oct. 1, Public Health updated the number of rapid tests and showed it used more than half the supply given to them by the feds, at 586,000 rapid test kits through the COVID-19 Point of Care Testing program.
“Rapid tests are also used in managing outbreaks,” the media release said on Oct. 1.
Neighboring Nova Scotia has made rapid tests available to the public at large. Anyone wishing to get a test can access it.
The province distributes rapid tests for residents to take home.
Global News has requested comment on whether Public Health in New Brunswick plans to make rapid tests widely available to the public amid continued rising case counts and is awaiting comment.
Schools will be getting rapid tests, though.
“Beginning Oct. 12, unvaccinated students who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case will be provided with either a five or 10-day supply of rapid tests, depending on the last possible exposure date to the confirmed case, along with instructions,” Public Health said on Oct. 5.