PC Party, NDP call for increase to COVID19 testing

HRM: The N.S. NDP and PC Party each issued statements regarding COVID19 testing for students and teachers on Sept. 15.

Here is the NDP statement:

Just one week into the school year, typical coughs and colds are already circulating in schools, causing many students and their parents or guardians to isolate, and miss classes while waiting for a COVID-19 test. 

“With students, teachers, and staff back in school, we have thousands of people who could need to access a COVID-19 test on any given day,” said NDP Education spokesperson Claudia Chender. “Waiting hours to get through to 811, days for an appointment and longer for testing and results is not sustainable when it means keeping students out of school and parents at home. Expedited testing for those connected with our schools is a must.” 

Issues with the 811 phone line yesterday meant many people who called couldn’t reach an operator for hours. 

“We have a government that hasn’t adequately planned ahead when it comes to COVID-19. We could foresee an increased demand for COVID-19 tests once school was back, yet it appears the system wasn’t ready to handle it,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “There are increasing cases in other provinces. Nova Scotia currently has only one active case; we should be using this time to make sure we are ready to manage a second wave of the virus without a widespread disruption to the school year.” 

The NDP is calling for broad and expedited access to testing to manage any outbreaks in schools. That plan could include on-site testing at schools, mobile testing, dedicated communication lines for school administrators, and prioritizing results for students, staff, and teachers.

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Here is the PC Party statement:

SYDNEY, NS— A day after Nova Scotia’s 811 line was paralyzed with delays, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston is calling for improvements to Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 testing. There are worries low capacity and slow testing will result in fewer people following the rules and getting tested.

“We’re putting people in a terrible situation,” said Houston. “They are forced to choose between either missing work for days at a time, or not making that call to 811. We should be creating the incentive to call 811 if you are unsure. Government is not doing that right now.”

Houston says that choice is tied to capacity and speed, and that months into the pandemic there is no indication that capacity has been substantially increased. During a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Health, no firm number was given on future testing capacity. 

The Liberal government recently changed testing criteria, making it harder to get a test, with some medical professionals saying the government should be testing more. 

“We’ve had months to prepare for a possible second wave, for a return to school and to figure out a plan to resume preventative screening for cancer, while testing for COVID-19,” continued Houston. “The McNeil Liberals haven’t moved the needle.”
Kings North MLA John Lohr says the testing process has taken as many as six days from the time a call to 811 is made, to when the test results are received. With schools now open it can be expected to get much worse.

“My colleagues and I are hearing from many concerned parents, and workers about the wait times they are being given when trying to get a COVID-19 test through 811,” explains Lohr. “This is made worse for rural families who appear to be facing longer wait times for COVID-19 testing, a discrepancy that is unacceptable.” 

According to our top medical professionals we could be living with COVID-19 for one to three years. The PCs say COVID-19 testing plans should reflect this new reality.

“If experts are saying COVID-19 could be here for three years, it’s time that Stephen McNeil and Randy Delorey started treating it that way and speed up testing,” said Houston.