OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he was tested for COVID-19 last month after developing a “tickle” in his throat but it came back negative.
The Prime Minister’s Office has not explained where he was tested during a month when Ottawa residents were waiting hours in line to be swabbed, and sometimes more than a week for results.
Conservative leader Erin O’Toole learned he had COVID-19 Sept. 16, after being tested at a private lab in Gatineau, Que., that was made available for members of the House of Commons.
Trudeau’s office has not responded yet to multiple requests asking if he was tested using a public or private lab.
Shortly before he revealed he had been tested, Trudeau criticized reports of private tests in several provinces, saying he would be speaking to Health Minister Patty Hajdu to follow up on the issue later in the day.
Private clinics are offering COVID-19 tests for as much as $250 each in multiple cities across Canada.
Ontario Power Generation has set up private testing for its employees and their families. The House of Commons has an on-call doctor who can arrange a private test for MPs if need be.
“It is foundational to Canada that everyone has access to health care,” Trudeau said when asked about those reports. “This is something we all know is extremely important. I have seen these reports on private clinics and testing and I will be speaking with the health minister later today to ensure follow up on this.”
Trudeau’s test last month seems to have been his first, and came the same month both O’Toole and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet tested positive for COVID-19.
Both men have since recovered and returned to public duties on Parliament Hill.
Trudeau said he is following the best public health advice available about testing himself.
“Earlier in September I had a bit of a — a throat tickle is the best way I could say, a bit of a raspy throat,” he said. “I checked with my doctor and he recommended I get tested. I got tested. It was negative and I went back to work a few days later when the doctor told me I was cleared to do it.”
Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March, but at the time Trudeau said public health advice was for people to be tested only if they had symptoms, which he did not.
He has said since he will take an antibody test when one becomes widely available to see if it is possible he had an asymptomatic case of the illness.
Some studies have suggested as many as 40 per cent of the people who are infected with COVID-19 never show any symptoms.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2020.
Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press