MONTREAL (CityNews) – Hundreds of Montrealers waited hours to get tested for COVID-19 on Wednesday as the number of cases continues to spike among young people.
Public health officials are seeing a surge in cases among people 15 to 39 years old and an uptick in the rate of community transmission. They are urging anyone who has been to a bar since July 1 to get tested.
That’s why the lineup at a testing clinic at Hotel Dieu in downtown Montreal snaked around the block Wednesday – and for the last few days. The wait time has varied between three and five hours.
“They’re going out, they’re going to restaurants, they’re going to bars,” said epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos of young Canadians. “They’re going to house parties. You can only get the virus form someone else. If you’re not coming into contact with people, the risk of you getting the virus is zero.
“But if you’re going out there with a bunch of people, your risk is quite high.”
Over the weekend, an estimated 3,000 Montrealers were tested for COVID-19. Another 1,057 went for testing on Tuesday. That comes after public health authorities linked COVID-19 outbreaks to nine Montreal-area bars.
“Just saw the line, so I think I’ll try to get tested at another one, or get tested another day because this is nonsense,” said one young Montrealer. “I don’t want to wait three hours to get tested.”
Of the total active cases in Quebec, more than one third are people under 39 years old. The province is nearing 57,000 total confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
Public health authorities believe most new positive cases are linked to the re-opening of bars, though they are not recommending the government close bars and restaurants – for now. They say people should continue to wear masks and be socially distant.
“A lot of people seem to be able to spread the germs even before they show symptoms,” said Labos. “So because you don’t know if you have the virus or not, be mindful that when you go into a group of people, you might be getting them sick.
“That’s why we advocate for masks now, unlike at the beginning. It’s not so much about protecting you, but protecting those around you.”