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COVID-19 self-test for returning travellers time-consuming, frustrating says Surrey woman

Last Updated Mar 19, 2021 at 4:26 pm PDT

Inderjit Sidhu of Surrey says after returning to Canada from India, it took her more than 48 hours to connect with someone to walk her through a home COVID-19 test. (Photo credit: Inderjit Sidhu)
Summary

Surrey woman says it took more than 48 hours to access online help with her home COVID-19 test

Inderjit Sidhu says she had to extend her quarantine period because she couldn't access online support

Company contracted to manage home COVID-19 test kits says more staff has been added to reduce wait times

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Imagine having to take a COVID-19 test to end your 14-day quarantine, and seeing more than 1,000 people in the line ahead of you.

Inderjit Kaur Sidhu says she spent two days trying to connect with a nurse virtually so she could complete the mandatory self-administered test while isolating at home.

The Surrey woman, who recently returned from India where she helped care for her ailing father, says she had to extend her quarantine period because of the test delay.

She’s among other travellers coming back to Canada who are having trouble accessing online support for the test kits.

“There were 1,010 people ahead of me,” Inderjit Kaur Sidhu tells NEWS 1130. “The nurse took the phone, within 30 seconds, she just cut the phone … Then, at 7:45 p.m., they closed. They opened at 3 a.m. and they just automatically cut my call.”

Inderjit Sidhu of Surrey says after returning to Canada from India, it took her more than 48 hours to connect with someone to walk her through a home COVID-19 test. (Photo credit: Inderjit Sidhu)

She says it took her more than 48 hours to connect with someone who could talk her through taking a COVID-19 test while isolating at home.

“There’s lots of people [who] cannot read, cannot perform the tests. So, what what should they do? Should people go out if they didn’t perform the test?” she wonders.

Related article: Canada working to address issues at mandatory quarantine hotels after reports of discord, confusion

Sidhu, a community health worker, tested negative. Her quarantine has ended and she’s back at work.

But she says the process was so frustrating, she broke down crying.

“If I cannot do it, how can they do it? Families can not come to your home. You have to do everything by yourself,” she said.

The Public Health Agency of Canada says “a small number of travellers” have encountered problems with Switch Health, the company contracted to manage the home test kits.

Switch Health says more staff have been hired to reduce wait times and support services are being offered in 15 languages, including several Indigenous languages. It also says it has upgraded its online portal “to improve the ease of access” and is now offering support via phone.

But these changes come too late for Sidhu.

“It was so frustrating and tiring and it makes me cry. So stressed,” she said.