P.E.I.’s chief public health officer is echoing concerns brought to her attention about 811 delays that are preventing people with COVID-19 questions from getting through.
In an interview on CBC News: Compass Thursday, Dr. Heather Morrison said she is worried about the time it is taking for the call centre to return calls, as well as the length of time it takes from the point of testing to getting those results back to the patient.
“I know we have the testing capacity in terms of the lab, and we have been talking about increasing that capacity for a long time but … I’m concerned, and we’re having ongoing discussions right now, with how quickly 811 can return and arrange to call back, and also concerns around the testing and how quickly we can get the testing done,” she said.
Those who develop symptoms in line with COVID-19 and do not have a family doctor or are unable to reach that physician or a nurse practitioner should call 811, according to the government’s website.
The website says testing is focused on people who have returned from travel, had contact with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or has developed symptoms.
Morrison said she has heard from people who have been unable to speak to someone, so her team is raising those issues with those responsible for 811 and testing centres and putting forward recommendations to speed it up.
“Those are things we are actively discussing and working on to make sure that there is really good, quick access to the testing.”
WATCH | Dr. Morrison shares concerns about 811 delays:
As of Thursday, Morrison said the province still has four active cases of COVID-19.
A cluster of cases Morrison announced on Tuesday involve two men in their 30s and one in his 40s who are essential workers “employed in the same industry” travelled to P.E.I. from outside the country two weeks prior.
A small number of people were tested in connection with that cluster as a result of contact tracing, she said.
Morrison said the latest cases remain in self-isolation and they will be retested twice before they are allowed to come out of isolation.
A look ahead
When it comes to lifting restrictions, Morrison said she wants to look at the possibility of increasing gathering sizes and reducing or removing modifications when it comes to participating in sports and physical activities, if things stay the same.
“Any easing further of restrictions is dependent on the fact that we would have low numbers of cases and our hospital system is not being overwhelmed and we’re able to manage any cases we get,” she said.
When asked if the “new normal” is overwhelming, Morrison said “we worry about what is anticipated,” given the outlook based on national modelling, which suggests a fall wave could be two or three times worse than what the country has seen so far.
As a mother of four children, Morrison said she shared concerns about getting back to school in a safe way.
“I guess I’m happy that we have made it to this point and are in such a good position, but I remain concerned about what may lie ahead later in the fall.”