CORNWALL — That painful-looking deep nose swab may be the “ideal” way to test for COVID-19, says Eastern Ontario’s Medical Officer of Health, but new coronavirus assessment centres in Dr. Paul Roumeliotis’s jurisdiction are actually performing oral throat swabs instead — because of a shortage of nasal swabs.
“Both are reliable, but the nasopharyngeal swab is more reliable than the throat swab,” Dr. Roumeliotis conceded during last night’s daily media briefing (April 1).
He said the throat swab method has been introduced as an interim measure, with the agreement of experts, “because there weren’t enough [nasal] swabs at one point.” The doctor said that more nasal swabs have been arriving, but in the meantime, they’re being used exclusively on hospitalized patients from whom samples must be taken using both methods.
The “temporary measure” affects all testing/assessment centres being established in the EOHU jurisdiction. The first opened its doors in Hawkesbury last week, followed by Winchester yesterday and an innovative drive-through location in Casselman today. A site has opened in Cornwall in recent days as well. Another is planned in Rockland.
The Eastern Ontario Health Unit region had 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, up from 13 the day before. That includes one individual in an ICU bed in Cornwall, on a ventilator. (Update April 2: Three more cases turned up today, bringing the total to 26.)
At the opening of the Winchester centre yesterday, nurses were shown by their leader how to conduct a throat swab and were warned to stand back and turn their head in the event of patient gagging.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, addresses the swab shortage near the end of his April 1 daily media conference call, below.