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Island Health halts second calls for COVID test booking, cites ‘unprecedented demand’

Call centre employees would previously contact residents a second time to book virus test
A COVID-19 testing centre in Victoria, pictured in October. In a new change, residents who miss calls from Island Health’s COVID booking centre will no longer be contacted again to schedule a test. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press Media)

A recent surge in COVID-19 test bookings on Vancouver Island means residents who miss calls from Island Health’s booking centre will not be contacted again to schedule a test.

Island Health confirmed the change on Dec. 29 after reports of missed calls emerged online.

Previously, residents wanting a COVID test would call the provincial hotline, then leave their phone number with Island Health’s automated callback system. They would receive a response from a booking employee within around 24 hours.

If a resident missed that initial booking call, the call centre would try to contact them again one hour later. However, Island Health told Black Press Media that second call has been halted due to “unprecedented demand” for testing.

“At this time the call centre will not call back a second time if the call is missed,” Island Health said in a statement. “While waiting for a callback, people are encouraged to keep their phone nearby and answer all calls.”

Residents who do not answer the phone will now need to schedule a call with the automated system again – essentially going to the back of the line for bookings. The health authority could call as early as 8 a.m. and until 4 p.m. or later.

“As the provincial health officer said last Friday, it is important that people do not seek testing for reasons such as pre-travel screening or before social events,” Island Health added.

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