Anita and Billy McDonald have been waiting more than a week to get tested for coronavirus after returning from Dominican Republic and experiencing symptoms. Photo contributed

COVID-19: Red Deer couple with symptoms has been waiting a week to get tested after travelling abroad

A Red Deer couple has waited over a week to take the COVID-19 test.

Anita McDonald and husband Billy returned from their holiday in the Dominican Republic on March 7. On March 9, the couple called Health Link 811 as Billy, 60, was experiencing symptoms: scratchy throat and a heaviness in his chest.

The couple describe the “heaviness” as “an elephant is sitting on your chest.”

The Red Deer wife said that the operator told her someone would be in touch within 24 hours so the couple could be tested for the coronavirus.

“They told us to self-quarantine and a nurse will be by within 24 hours.”

It’s been more than a week and there have been no tests or updates.

“We phone and phone and phone that number (811) over and over again,” she said Tuesday, adding the couple has tried calling at different hours of the day and night, but can’t get through.

“We just get a recording: due to high volume we’re unable to take your call, if it’s an emergency call 9-1-1.”

“Billy also went online and did everything there, and the very last thing they say is ‘call 811’,” the 56-year-old woman said.

In the past four days, the wife has also been experiencing the same symptoms as the husband.

Not knowing whether the couple has coronavirus or the flu, or a bug, has been hard on the couple.

“It’s frustrating. We’re trying to stay positive and upbeat. It’s hard enough being locked away.

“There’s been nothing, not even to say we’ve been busy, or to hang on, nothing, and we wouldn’t be concerned, but we did travel and we went there via Toronto Pearson, which was filthy.”

McDonald said she is especially worried about her husband, who does not usually get sick.

She also wondered how many other people are in the same boat as her.

“So you have to wonder how accurate these statistics are.”

Although the self-quarantine hasn’t been easy, the community has been helpful.

The Red Deerian said she feels blessed to have neighbours who have been helping with groceries and dropping off homemade soup.

The couple cleaned out their fridge before leaving for their holiday on Feb. 24 and did not have groceries when they returned home.

“We didn’t even have milk.”

“It’s so cute because they (neighbours) come up and knock on the door, and you look out, and you see them running back to the sidewalk, and it’s beautiful.

“We’re so blessed with such good people in our community, It makes me want to cry, actually,” the Red Deer woman said of her neighbours in Riverside Meadows.

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