‘I want accountability,’ says mother whose son was detained in quarantine facility

The 20-year-old was taken into custody for taking the antigen test instead of PCR
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RED DEER — On February 3, Rebekah McDonald took to Facebook to air her grievances regarding the Canadian government’s COVID-19 measures after her son was taken to a quarantine facility upon arriving at the Calgary airport from Phoenix, Arizona. 

“I felt extremely helpless,” she said in the video. “You go in there under the premises that you’re going to be taken care of and safe — but there’s nobody watching out for that.”

McDonald expressed doubt and skepticism towards the Canadian government, which currently has the “ability to take away your rights and freedoms in the name of health,” she said in the video.

Early morning on January 31, her son was taken to an isolation centre because he took the antigen test instead of the PCR test for SARS-CoV-2. 

According to McDonald, Ethan was taken into custody despite receiving a negative COVID-19 test result because border services believe the antigen test, also known as a rapid test, her son took was “not accurate.” 

“They won’t let me talk to him; they won’t let me see him,” a tearful McDonald said in the video posted on her Facebook account, which was widely circulated across social media platforms. In another video, the mother said that she had not seen her son in two years.

McDonald said that the border services officers told her they “had nothing to do with” the policy before taking him to the isolation centre. She said they would not disclose the location of the destination they were taking him.

“They say he doesn’t have a choice, that it’s the law,” she said in the video. “They are taking him against my will and his will, and I’m not okay with it.”

The Government of Canada’s website states that travellers entering the country must abide by the rules set out by the emergency orders under the federal Quarantine Act. Individuals entering Canada must undergo screening by officials, where travellers must answer relevant questions and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 rest taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure time.

According to the website, federal representatives are authorized to determine if the traveller should be “transferred to a designated quarantine facility, if no other suitable options are available.” The website also stated that the referral to an isolation centre is a “last resort.”

On February 1, his mother said in a video update that her son had returned home. 

When his PCR test — his third test, McDonald said — came back negative, officials released him from the quarantine facility Monday afternoon. They brought Ethan McDonald to the airport, where his mother collected him to take him home to Red Deer.

McDonald was relieved to have her son back, but she nonetheless took issue with how the government handled the situation.

“Why does there need to be all this secrecy?” she said in the video posted February 3, regarding what she considered lack of transparency in government protocol. “They made such a big scene about it — it should have never been done that way.”

In the video, McDonald revealed that on Ethan McDonald’s first night at the isolation centre, on January 31, he had received the results of a PCR test but could not tell the officials about the result. “He had to wait it out for their third test that they had done in there,” she said. 

Ethan McDonald had taken a total of three COVID-19 tests, according to his mother’s account: one antigen test and two PCR tests. 

“Should there be […] a system that has all power and all control with no checks, no balances, and no accountability?” she asked in the update posted on her Facebook account.

According to the new travel measures enacted by the federal government, travellers entering Canada must undergo a COVID-19 test upon arrival. The webpage, however, does not specify the type of test. Travellers must also reserve three nights in a hotel — at their own expense — while they await test outcomes.

McDonald could not be reached for a statement.

Wiki Production Code: A0558

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