High demand for low supply of rapid COVID-19 tests in Waterloo Region
Demand for rapid COVID-19 tests in Waterloo Region is high, but supply remains very low.
“There is a very wide gap between which regions are receiving rapid tests,” said Dr. Dalia Hasan, who works in Kitchener.
Dr. Hasan called the rollout of free rapid tests “frustrating.”
“Right now, there was only one initiative for residents to get a rapid test and that was through the provincial holiday blitz,” she said. “They had a one-day LCBO site.”
Those kits were handed out just minutes after they arrived on Friday.
There are no locations in Waterloo Region or Guelph on the province’s pop-up schedule. The Kitchener and Waterloo public libraries are also not included.
Dr. Hasan was able to get 100 free kits through donations and did her own pop-up event over the weekend.
“We ended up getting 1,500 people pre-registered for our event,” she said. “We created a lottery program.”
The problem is also impacting the local business community.
“We get hundreds of phone calls every single day asking for kits,” Greg Durocher with the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce said.
Durocher said the chamber is still waiting for 50,000 kits that were supposed to arrive before the holidays for local businesses.
“We found out the order was going to be delayed until early January because the province was out of kits,” he said.
On Friday, the region’s top doctor said she’s advocating fore more kits. CTV Kitchener reached out to the region on local rollout plans and was directed to the provincial government.
“Locations across the province were identified by local health partners and businesses where higher traffic is anticipated over the holiday season and where vaccinated and unvaccinated people are likely to gather. More sites across the province will be added to the website on a weekly basis,” a statement from the Ministry of Health said in part. “So far, two LCBOs in Waterloo, three in Kitchener and two in Cambridge have handed out COVID-19 take-home rapid test kits.”
The statement said the province has “a limited supply” of tests, adding “every single test the province has received from the federal government is on its way out the door to thousands of workplaces, hospitals, home and community care settings, long-term care homes, schools and child care centres on top of the many pop-up sites across the province.”
“In addition to Ontario directly procuring additional rapid tests where possible, we are continuing to urge the federal government to make more rapid tests available to provinces as quickly as possible,” the statement said. “While we were expecting to receive approximately 10 million rapid tests from the federal government this month, millions of tests have been delayed until the new year.”
Meanwhile, some companies like Waterloo-based The Canadian Shield are selling them online.
“Right now, we are sitting at around 55,000 orders through our website, so that’s a pretty large number,” CEO Jeremy Hedges said.
Hedges said they’re currently sold out of rapid antigen tests as they work to fulfill orders during a holiday surge. He hopes to have more stock later this week.
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