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What to expect when you get tested for COVID-19

Don’t use your cellphone, don’t forget your health card or driver’s licence, and follow the arrows.

The COVID-19 testing clinic on Park Street in Charlottetown has been busy over the past week as more positive cases are announced. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Don’t use your cellphone, don’t forget your health card or driver’s licence, and follow the arrows.

Oh, and leave your dog at home.

Those are a few of the guidelines for the thousands of people expected to get tested for COVID-19 this week as the number of cases on P.E.I. continues to rise. Young people aged between 20 and 29 are the focus of the latest test blitz, especially those living or working n the Charlottetown area.

Eleven new cases were announced in the last three days, including four on Monday. Lineups stretched for blocks around the Park Street clinic in Charlottetown Monday as people waited to get tested.

Once inside, here’s what to expect.

The bay works like a car wash — in one entrance and out another. The Park Street site can accommodate 12 vehicles inside at a time. You will be asked to stay off your cellphone while you are going through the process.

Marion Dowling, P.E.I.’s chief of nursing, says the type of test depends on age. (CBC)

Marion Dowling, P.E.I.’s chief of nursing, also asks that people not bring their pets or other people who are not getting tested.

“That is appreciated,” she said.

“We’ve had some friendly dogs and other animals in our vehicles but [not bringing them] helps our staff be very efficient with gathering your information, entering it into our clinical information system directly at the sites.”

The test is very quick and short.— Marion Dowling

A health-care worker will ask if you have symptoms, and will jot down personal information such as date of birth, address and any medical conditions.

“The test is very quick and short,” Dowling said.

The type of test you will get depends on age. Usually, children 12 and under get the long nasal swab. Anyone older than 12 gets the short nasal swab and a throat swab..

Once the specimen is collected, patients are asked to self-isolate until a negative test comes back. They say getting a result can take 72 hours but yours might come back sooner.

Instructions will be given to you on how to find negative test results online. Those who test positive are contacted directly by public health officials for a conversation on what to do next.

May need to get retested

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, said even those who test negative may not be in the clear.

“For those who are getting tested who do not have symptoms over the next week, it’ll be really important that even if you’re tested and your result comes back negative, if you develop symptoms a few days later, you need to go get tested again.”

Prince Edward Island has now confirmed 84 cases of COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic began in early 2020.

There have been no deaths on the Island, and so far, nobody has needed hospital treatment. 

In Canada, the number of COVID-19 cases has now surpassed 415,000, with more than 12,600 deaths. 

Reminder about symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.
  • Possible loss of taste and/or smell.
  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.

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