By Michael Boriero
Quebecers rushed online Monday morning to reserve a coveted COVID-19 rapid test kit only to temporarily crash the Jean Coutu Group website, and then later find out pharmacies were completely out of stock within a couple of hours.
Rachel Legeunesse owns the Jean Coutu Health-Beauty in Lennoxville. Legeunesse told The Record that she received 108 kits — one kit contains five rapid tests — and she was cleared out early in the morning. However, she isn’t sure when she’ll receive another shipment.
“For now we’re supposed to get some every day, so I’m assuming we’ll receive it, but again, it’s not 100 per cent, so we want to have the boxes in our hands before we say we have it every day,” said Legeunesse, adding there is a supply chain delay right now.
The Quebec government has promised to distribute over four million rapid test kits in pharmacies across the province throughout the next few days. According to Legeunesse, everyone is entitled to one kit per month, free of charge, as long as they reserve online.
Marie-Eve Ouimette, a pharmacist at the Jean Coutu in Coaticook, also ran out of test kits, and she has yet to receive another shipment for Tuesday. Ouimette told The Record she hopes to have more by Wednesday, but at this point there’s just no telling when they will come in.
While she understands everyone wants to get their hands on a kit before the weekend, she also preaches patience from the community. According to Ouimette, her phone was ringing all day with people asking about the availability of rapid test kits.
Her pharmacy covers a large portion of the Eastern Townships, and there is still a lot of work to do every day. She wants to remind everyone that the easiest way to acquire a test kit is by reserving online on the Jean Coutu website. It also helps to eliminate long wait lines.
“The work continues here for us, we need to stay focused on our other pharmacy services, preparing medication, and now we’re submerged in phone calls. I understand they want to call for their kits, but it distracts us from our day-to-day work,” said Ouimette.
Jean-Marc Bélanger, who owns the Uniprix in Knowlton, is running things slightly different from other pharmacies, as he has yet to receive any test kits. He was anticipating at least the first 108 kits promised by the government, but it appears that will only come in on Tuesday.
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