One Estevan resident has been left frustrated after being put into quarantine, following being issued an invalid test by the Canada Border Services Agency.
Rhonda Pachal, who is fully vaccinated, returned home from a trip to Las Vegas arriving in Minot and driving through the North Portal border crossing.
While there, she was issued a random COVID test and told to take it at home, being told not to let the test get cold or it would be invalid.
After some trouble getting a virtual appointment set up with a B.C. hospital (as there are no available facilities in Saskatchewan) so that she could prove she took the test, it was pointed out to her the test was invalid.
"The gentleman said 'To start with, can we just check something with regards to the box.' and on the indicator, it tells you whether the box has been cold or frozen," said Pachal, "The indicator had a red dot in the middle of it, which meant that the box was invalid, I couldn't use it."
While the person she was on the line with did offer to send another test through the mail, due to the extreme cold we were facing last week any test which would come in the mail would also be frozen and invalid.
Running out of options, Pachal went back to the North Portal crossing in order to get another test but found once she got there that her test wasn't the only invalid one.
"The officer gives me another test kit, and I said 'Can we open this before I leave.' We open the first box and the indicator on the outside has a red dot which meant that it was invalid," said Pachal, "So he goes to a totally different box and brings me another test kit which ended up being the same. It has a red dot on it, invalid."
The reason for the invalid tests was made apparent after Pachal continued to speak with the border officers - the invalid tests may have been due to how they were stored.
"Three other customs officers were in the office," said Pachal, "and he said 'Do we keep these boxes in the warehouse?' and they said 'Yeah.' and I said 'Is the warehouse heated?' and he said 'No' I said 'Well then all of those boxes that you have in there are going to be invalid'."
Because Pachal was unable to provide a test 24 hours after her appointment, she was told by the Government of Canada in an email to go into quarantine protocol for 14 days, describing it as a nightmare.
"Yesterday I received an email from the Government of Canada stating that I had to quarantine for 14 days because that COVID test hadn't been done in 24 hours and that's the requirement. There was absolutely no way for me to get it done in 24 hours,' said Pachal, "So now I sit here in quarantine, not knowing what else is going to happen."
Pachal is saying she may not end up having to quarantine for the full fourteen days and has e-mailed Sask Health for more information, though she hasn't heard back from them yet.
Unfortunately, she did test positive from a rapid test and is now hoping to learn how long she will have to quarantine for now.
Both her and us here at Discover Estevan have not yet received word back from the Canada Border Services Agency or the Public Health Agency of Canada.