Wait times for COVID-19 tests are a challenge for patients and families

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While the Saskatchewan Health Authority now offers universal testing for COVID-19, residents of the province have to wait longer for a test than at the start of the pandemic.Those who report potential symptoms of COVID-19 are now asked to wait 48 hours before getting tested. According to the health authority, the current policy aims to reduce the risk of false negatives.

“At the beginning of March, we were still at the very beginning of knowledge of COVID-19,” said Lisa Thomson, SHA media relations consultant.

“There was a short time that the recommendation to wait 48 [hours] after the onset of symptoms was not in place, but after published studies indicating that there was [a] decreased risk of false negatives if patients were not tested for 48 hours, this practice was implemented in March. ”

But a Saskatoon man awaiting test results says the delay has disrupted his life and family, and is concerned about what the expectations might mean for others in the months to come.

Jim Clifford fell with a fever on Wednesday afternoon. He immediately isolated himself from his wife and two young children, then called 811.

The health line referred him for a COVID-19 test. Friday afternoon, he was told that his local test site could see him on Monday.

After protesting what would have been a five-day wait, he was referred to a different testing site that might be suitable for him that evening. But the wait and the uncertainty continue to be difficult.

“If I had taken a test yesterday and got the results at some point today – no fever, no cough, no other breathing problems – I could have dinner with my kids tonight and help put them to bed,” he said. -he declares.

“I could be an integral part of my family.… My partner will be exhausted, doing full-time parenting. ”

The SHA estimates a delay of approximately 24 hours between the time when a sample is received in the laboratory and the time when the person receives his results.

In the meantime, until he tested negative, Clifford was asked to continue to self-isolate.

He is particularly concerned about the impact of these wait times on parents and families as fall approaches, when their children return to class in person.

Thanks to his experience this week, he discovered that isolating a member of a household for at least 72 hours straight was not an easy task.

“We have a six-year-old and an almost four-year-old, so we have viruses entering our house almost every month,” Clifford said.

“Maybe it will be a little better this year, because everyone is a little more careful and aware of hand hygiene and other issues, but with the daycare starting for us next week, I always imagine that we are going to have a steady stream of colds coming from our house, ”he says.

“We can’t stop like this every five to six weeks during cold and flu season. “

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