Some Albertans waiting up to four days before they can take a COVID-19 test

CALGARY — Alberta Health Services says any Albertan wanting a COVID-19 test will get one within 48 hours of booking an appointment, but some are waiting days.

William Scott’s grade two son was listed as a close contact to a student who tested positive at his school last week.

Scott says he found out on Tuesday morning and immediately booked a test for his child.

“They said at the school to give AHS a call and they’ll book you in, in the next 48 hours sort of idea,” he said.

“(I) went home, went online to book a test and the earliest I could get was Saturday, the 24th.”

Scott says if his son was deemed a close contact, why was his family not told immediately, so they could take the precautionary steps.

“I think it was frustrating that we were told he was exposed last week,” said Scott.

“Was that Thursday, Wednesday was it Friday?”

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Scott says when he did eventually book the appointment online, AHS told him there was a higher than average volume of people looking to do the same.

For the group ‘Support Our Students’ staff, they say the backlog in testing is worrying.

“Testing and rapidly getting results is a key part of dealing with the pandemic and we’re a year in this is not new by any stretch ,” said communications director Wing Li.

Li believes testing should be ramped up immediately to help slow the spread.

“They should have done it long long ago,” she said.

LATE IN THE GAME

“This is almost a little late in the game because without being proactive about it now, you’re having people being left with no other recourse.”

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On Tuesday, Alberta Health announced 13,163 tests were conducted with a positivity rate of 10.45 per cent.

In December, the province reached record daily testing at 23,543 tests on December 5th.

Those are levels Li hopes to see return.

“Yes testing needs to be ramped up, (but) contract tracing needs to be ramped up because a lot of schools are taking it on now.”

AHS STATEMENT

Alberta Health Services in a statement told CTV News that there has been an increase in the number of people requesting tests in the Calgary zone.

“We apologize for any delay in receiving a COVID-19 test, and ask that Albertans be patient as we work to manage the current testing demand, while ensuring Albertans receive their COVID-19 immunization as quickly as possible,” read a statement.

“Calgary Zone is providing more than 5,000 COVID-19 tests per day across eight testing centres in the Calgary Zone,” it added.

AHS says it has 200-300 additional appointments daily in Calgary while also extending hours of operation at two of the sites to 16 hours per day.

Later Tuesday afternoon, AHS added that some staff moved from testing sites to immunizing facilities in January, when testing levels were low.

Now, with cases on the upswing, adjustments are being made.

“We are currently working to expand our (testing) capacity and have added more evening appointments,” said James Wood, AHS spokesperson. “At the end of this month, Bow Trail will become a COVID-19 testing site only (no immunizations) and we are also exploring other options to increase capacity.”

“Testing volumes in Calgary Zone have doubled within the past four to six weeks and are currently at about 5,000 per day.”

“With variants and numerous close contacts, we are also requiring more second tests as well.”

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