Getting access to a COVID-19 test should only take up to two days in the Island Health region but getting through to the health authority’s testing call centre might require some patience. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Elaine Thompson)

High call volumes cause delays for Island Health’s COVID-19 call centre

Increased cases, technical difficulties cause 60 to 90-minute phone waits for some callers

The average wait time for a COVID-19 test on Vancouver Island is two days, say health officials, but getting assessed through the health authority’s call centre might require some patience.

The Island Health COVID-19 Testing Call Centre is available for people experiencing symptoms who do not have primary care providers.

But with cases on the rise across the province, the centre is experiencing high call volumes, with wait times up to 60 or 90 minutes to speak to a nurse or clerk during peak hours such as morning. On top of the increased cases, technical difficulties are exacerbating wait times.

RELATED: B.C. records 83 new COVID-19 cases as health officials warn of community exposures

“We are moving quickly to implement mitigation strategies, including recruiting staffing resources, to ensure we can consistently meet the demand,” said Cheryl Bloxham, Island Health spokesperson. “We recognize the importance of early detection and follow up in preventing transmission of COVID-19 and are working as quickly as possible to decrease the wait times.”

In B.C., people who don’t have symptoms aren’t being tested. Those with concerns can use an online self-assessment tool to determine if they need testing.

The most common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting and muscle aches.

Once a person with symptoms calls the Island Health call centre, the maximum wait time for a test is 48 hours.

READ ALSO: New COVID-19 testing machine takes load off B.C.’s virologists and labs


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