Quebec’s Ministry of Health says the website for booking COVID-19 testing appointments is down for maintenance, and hundreds of appointments were suddenly cancelled on Wednesday across the province.
A spokesperson for the ministry told CBC News that the number of cancelled appointments varies from region to region.
For now, the ministry is telling people that they should only be going in for testing if they have symptoms and don’t have access to a rapid test.
However, Quebec pharmacies have run out of rapid tests for the week, according to the group that represents pharmacist-owners, the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires.
The association’s president told Radio-Canada that rapid tests likely won’t be available until next week, and the delivery of those tests has yet to be confirmed.
“It does not help to contact us to try to get some,” Benoit Morin said. “There are none at the moment.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Heath says Quebec is relying on the federal government to keep pharmacies stocked with rapid tests, but the ministry is “currently looking at the various options for obtaining rapid tests in order to accelerate distribution to the population.”
Meanwhile, testing appointments were cancelled at different locations across the province on Wednesday.
For example, some 1,000 appointments were cancelled in Laval, and police were called in to help control the crowds.
Afterward, frustrated people of all ages, including children, were milling around trying to figure out what to do next; they were told they needed to make a new appointment.
But clicking on the provincial website leads to the message: “We are currently in a maintenance period. The platform will be available shortly, please try again later.”
There are reports of cancelled appointments in Montreal’s Villeray neighbourhood and in Boucherville, on Montreal’s South Shore.
The CIUSSS de la Mauricie-et-du-Centre-du-Québec, northeast of Montreal, is reporting similar problems.
“A technical incident is currently underway on the appointment booking platform,” the regional health authority says on its Facebook page. “Pending a solution, the citizen appointment portal is temporarily closed.”
These technical mishaps come as Quebec continues to break records in new daily COVID-19 cases.
Health officials reported 13,149 new infections on Wednesday and 10 more deaths.
They say COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by 102 to 804, after 179 people entered hospital and 77 were discharged. There are 122 people in intensive care, an increase of seven patients.