(THUNDER BAY, ON) – Many people in Thunder Bay are anxious about the coronavirus and some are showing symptoms similar to the ongoing pandemic.
The fact of the matter is that Canada as a whole, which includes the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, does not know who is infected or how many people are. Many of us will never know if we had COVID-19, either.
Tests in Ontario are being used sparingly as there is a substantial shortage of them. This is to ensure that high-priority patients, which includes healthcare workers, can be tested.
A Public Health Ontario spokesperson told CBC in an email that “In terms of who should not be tested, people who do not have symptoms do not require testing.”
We reported days ago that people were telling us they were being sent home from the hospital without being tested and told not to come back unless their breathing became difficult or more serious issues arose. These people possibly had COVID-19 but were not tested. This is inline with what a Toronto hospital is doing. Michael Garron Hospital has a new guidance document describing the latest testing protocol. Anyone who is asymptomatic will be sent home without a test and be instructed to self-isolate and monitor themselves for common cold symptoms.
Many people reported that when seeking to be tested in Thunder Bay, they were outright refused testing if they could not name a confirmed case of COVID-19 that they had been in contact with or if they were not travelling with a confirmed case.
What’s the problem? A shortage of laboratory supplies.
Doctors across Canada have been watching their supply of nasal swabs dwindle. Health Canada has put an order out for more COVID-19 viral detection kits. As can be expected, they are in high-demand at the present time.
The Ontario Health Minister, Christine Elliott called the fact people in Ontario are waiting up to five days for test results “unacceptable”.
Another fact is that doctors don’t need to conduct the test to begin treating COVID-19, as there currently is no drugs or specific therapies that are even available to patients. Doctors are treating the symptoms of the virus and not the virus itself.
Doctors are able to provide supportive care for patients who are severely ill which includes ventilator breathing assistance. Thunder Bay has 22 ventilator but is expecting 18 more to add to the list.
The common theme across Canada is that if you have mild symptoms, you won’t be tested and will be sent home.
Coronavirus COVID-19 infections in Canada are much, much higher than is being reported.
with files from CBC News / Kelly Crowe
special thanks to SUPERFAN Bill Woods for tipping me off initially to the shortage.