Long lineups for COVID-19 test kits in Cape Breton

·2 min read
A long lineup of cars can be seen waiting at the Sydney River, N.S., train trestle just down the road from a drive-thru rapid testing kit event at the County Arena in Coxheath. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)
A long lineup of cars can be seen waiting at the Sydney River, N.S., train trestle just down the road from a drive-thru rapid testing kit event at the County Arena in Coxheath. (Erin Pottie/CBC - image credit)

If you want a COVID-19 rapid test in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, you'll need to start the car.

After concerns were raised over a lack of COVID-19 testing, residents of the municipality can now pick up kits at several drive-thru events.

And that's led to long lineups.

On Wednesday morning, Shelley MacDonald of Westmount sat in her car near the Coxheath arena where vehicles were crammed together for about a kilometre down the road.

"I think older people would come a lot more since they don't have to wait in a lineup in the cold and it's in-and-out," she said. "Hopefully it's a big success."

MacDonald had tried booking an appointment for rapid testing online, but none were available.

"[Demand] is very high. And I'm hoping we get more in," she said, adding there seemed to be a lack of tests, as well as vaccine shots, on Cape Breton.

Matthew Moore/CBC
Matthew Moore/CBC

Terry MacLean, who also lives in Westmount, waited in line for more than 20 minutes, but said things were moving quickly.

"It's very well run," he said. "I find everything is running smooth. Everything here is great today, so far."

Cape Breton Regional Police urged drivers to use caution and expect delays near drive-thru test sites at County Arena in Coxheath and at Colliery Lands Park in New Waterford.

Staff at the Family Place Resource Centre are handing out four tests per person until 3 p.m., but noted there were no more kits left at the site in New Waterford. The centre said a second round of drive-thru events will take place Thursday at the Emera Centre in North Sydney and the Miners Forum in Glace Bay, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

A second lineup could be seen Wednesday outside Centre 200 in Sydney as people waited for vaccination doses.

But many left without getting a jab as the clinic ran out of doses around 11:30 a.m. for the second day in a row. Both events were scheduled to run until 3 p.m.

The Department of Health and Wellness said the clinics are for people who prefer to get vaccinated without having to make an appointment. But the department did not respond to a request for information on how many doses were available.

"The outreach clinics receive a set amount of vaccine each day based on their capacity and current supply," spokesperson Marla MacInnis said in an email. "How long it lasts depends on how many people show up."

Erin Pottie/CBC
Erin Pottie/CBC

MacInnis said additional appointments are added frequently through the week so people should check the booking site often.

There are currently no other drop-in clinics listed for the vaccines in Sydney, according to the Nova Scotia Health website.

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