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COVID tests at the airport that do not help at all

COVID tests at the airport are useless


But what good is a COVID test taken at the airport if the traveler receives their result weeks later? ask experts. 

That's what happened to Charles Lahitte, a Montrealer who returned from a trip on July 21 with his girlfriend.  

< p>Although they followed the instructions of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to the letter, they had to wait two weeks before receiving their results, a delay longer than the quarantine of 10 expected days for positive travellers.

“All this waste of resources to receive my result two weeks after my arrival, it is still incredible. If I had been positive, I would have had time to give everyone COVID,” he says, pointing out that his girlfriend went through the same situation.

For Dr. Jean Barbeau, full professor of microbiology at the University of Montreal, the measure is a “sword in the water”. 

“After two weeks, it is certain that the effectiveness of the measure is completely lost,” he says.

The measure was suspended on June 11 before being reinstated on July 19 after an upsurge in cases.  

Taken by surprise

About fifteen minutes after going through customs, Mr. Lahitte received an email from PHAC informing him that he was selected. 

“It's confusing because he doesn't there is no customs officer who reminds you that random tests still exist. You learn it a bit by surprise looking at your emails, but I wonder what happens with those who do not check them regularly, ”he says. 

He chooses self-sampling from home and waits a week to receive the kit, delivered from Switch Health labs in Mississauga. 

“It's a little stressful because that in the email it is clearly written that if you have not taken the test by the day after your arrival at the latest, there could be sanctions. »

Diane Lamarre, full clinical professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Montreal, is rather of the opinion that random screening can be justified insofar as it allows the detection of new variants. 

< p>“Now, the way to do it, that's unacceptable,” she said. The burden to be borne by travelers is not justified. If we apply a measure, it must be done in such a way that it bears fruit. » 

An on-site test

She believes that “the PCR test should be done at the airport without people having to wait for hours when they return from a trip”. 

The expert also notes that the sequencing, either laboratory identification of variants can be done at a lower cost through the analysis of wastewater. 

►En December, Ottawa had granted up to $631 million for all measures associated with screening. Asked twice about the estimated cost of reimposing random testing, Health Canada said it “did not receive enough data on the bills”.

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