Not all travellers entering P.E.I. being tested for COVID-19

·3 min read
The Chief Public Health Office says about 70 per cent of travellers entering P.E.I. through Borden and the Charlottetown Airport are getting rapid COVID-19 tests done. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)
The Chief Public Health Office says about 70 per cent of travellers entering P.E.I. through Borden and the Charlottetown Airport are getting rapid COVID-19 tests done. (Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit)

Not all travellers to Prince Edward Island are getting COVID-19 rapid tests at border entry points.

When traffic levels are high at the Confederation Bridge or Wood Islands ferry, border officials might only test travellers from outside Atlantic Canada or those without a PEI Pass, the Chief Public Health Office said in an email to CBC News. All travellers entering the province are still being screened.

"They said since I had my first vaccine there was no need for me to get tested," said Chandler Campbell, who lives in Amherst, N.S.

Most of Campbell's family lives on P.E.I. After not seeing them for nine months, he travelled to the Island on Canada Day for the long weekend.

"I was off the bridge and then they got me to one of the tents. There was probably 10 tents set up and they were just full of cars," said Campbell. "I went up and waited in line for about 15 minutes and a COVID officer came up and asked me a few questions, asked for my PEI Pass and I was good to go."

According to the CPHO, border officials at the Confederation Bridge are currently limiting rapid tests to certain travellers when there are more than 350 swabs pending, or if the parking lot at the testing site is more than two-thirds full.

The province is taking steps to avoid going into this contingency mode for border testing, such as sending samples that are pending to other locations for analysis.

P.E.I. has been the only Maritime province so far to test incoming travellers for COVID-19 at its borders.

When border restrictions ease further on July 18, the province will likely focus testing more on travellers without a PEI Pass and those from outside Atlantic Canada, the CPHO said.

Limited testing on Canada Day

On the morning of July 1, there were high traffic volumes at the Confederation Bridge. To avoid backing up traffic, border officials only tested travellers without a PEI Pass for a 90-minute period, the CPHO said.

Kirk Pennell/CBC
Kirk Pennell/CBC

Between June 27 and July 1, more than 10,000 rapid tests were completed at border entry points, with 77 per cent of them at the Confederation Bridge, the CPHO said. None of those tests have come back positive.

Five travellers tested positive from rapid tests on the first day borders opened to vaccinated travellers within Atlantic Canada, but all five were later confirmed negative by PCR tests.

The CPHO said based on early data, about 70 per cent of travellers entering the Island via Borden and the Charlottetown Airport are being tested. Some of the remaining 30 per cent are children under the age of 16 — who are not tested at points of entry — and vehicles or groups with more than two people from the same household. At Wood Islands, about 90 per cent of incoming travellers are being tested.

As of noon on July 2, the province received 80,000 PEI Pass applications, and 60,500 have been processed.

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