Man says parents developed COVID-19 symptoms after Vegas trip but can't get tested
VANCOUVER -- When Mike Giesbrecht called his parents after they returned from Las Vegas, he wasn’t expecting to hear his dad sounding so unwell.
“My dad started displaying coronavirus symptoms when we talked to him on the phone,” said Giesbrecht. "He had a fever, he had a dry, hacking cough."
Giesbrecht said his parents, 75-year-old Rob and 73-year-old Shirley, headed down to Vegas in early March when there were "no restrictions or even hints of restrictions."
They came home March 16 on a WestJet flight, landing at about 1 p.m. The pair has been self-isolating ever since returning from the trip. It was days later, Giesbrecht explained, that his dad took a turn.
His parents called 811, but faced what the family called a "three hour ordeal trying to get a hold of somebody there.”
They explained their symptoms and were told to stay home, according to their son, who spoke to CTV News on their behalf. They were also given a similar message from their family doctor.
“Doctor basically said stay at home, call me if it gets any worse," Giesbrecht said.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has been saying for days that the government's testing strategy means not everyone showing symptoms will be tested.
"We are focusing on health care workers, we’re focusing on the health system, so people in long term care or people who are in hospital or likely to be in hospital,” she explained at Wednesday's virus briefing.
"For the most part if you have a mild illness that can be managed at home, and you’re in isolation and you’re not going to pass it on to others, you may or may not be tested.”
Since Giesbrecht’s parents are in their seventies though, he’s quite concerned.
“They’re in the house alone, and who knows what’s going to happen,” he told CTV News. “Nobody in the world was ready for this.”
CTV News reached out to WestJet about this potential case, and an airline spokesperson said in a statement: “At this time we are not aware or have been advised by the appropriate agencies/health authorities on this date and route.”
Meaning no passenger or crew member would have been informed that someone who was on that plane is now experiencing symptoms.
That's another reason why Giesbrecht wants his parents tested.
“There was a flight of people coming from Vegas a week and a half ago,” he explained, “so why wouldn’t the health services want to know that?”
Giesbrecht spoke to his parents Wednesday morning and said his dad was feeling a bit better, but still sounded rough. “They’re doing as well as could be," Giesbrecht said.
He wanted to advocate for his parents, but also come forward to make sure anyone who had been on that flight back from Vegas was aware, and could watch for symptoms.