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Manitoba public health: COVID-19 testing demand high, plans underway to reduce backlog

Manitobans are Reminded to Only Seek Testing if Showing Symptoms: Gordon
COVID testing

The Manitoba government advises that testing capacity in Manitoba is strained and public health officials are now recommending that those who are 50 and over and have received their second vaccine dose five months ago are now eligible for COVID-19 booster doses, Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.

“As we see increased daily COVID-19 case numbers, we are seeing a significant increase in demand for testing and this demand has increased wait times for testing and test results,” said Gordon. “We are looking at all options to expand laboratory capacity in the coming days and ask that people without symptoms should not visit COVID-19 test sites.”

At this time, there are at least 10,000 tests awaiting processing. This backlog means it is expected that current COVID-19 case counts are an under-reporting of cases of the virus across the province, the minister noted.

When going for testing, people can expect lineups and wait times to get test results. The current test turnaround time is four days or longer. Work continues to finalize the logistics for making rapid tests more available and additional information will be shared as soon as possible.  

Manitobans are still being asked to get tested if they are experiencing COVID-19, cold or flu-like symptoms. Appointments for tests are still available at some locations as well as options for drive-thru, walk-in and walk-up. Manitobans should check locations and hours before they go, as COVID-19 testing site hours of operation may have changed during the holiday season.

“Now more than ever, Manitobans should also continue following public health orders and guidance about household gathering limits over the coming days,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “Limit your contact with others, only get together with immediate family, reduce travel, follow the fundamentals and get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Gordon also noted that public health officials have advised changes be made to the eligibility for third-dose booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine. Effective immediately, those 50 years of age and over who received their second dose at least five months ago are eligible to make appointments for their third dose.       

“The vaccine has done incredibly well in protecting us from serious illness, from hospitalization and from deaths caused by COVID-19, but health officials advise that even highly effective vaccines often become less so over time,” said Gordon. “We urge anyone 50 and over who received their second dose at least five months ago get their booster dose as soon as possible.”

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 testing site locations and hours and to book an appointment online at certain sites, visit: https://gov.mb.ca/covid19/testing/locations.html.

To find information on where to book appointments for third doses, visit www.protectmb.ca.