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Niagara Health prioritizing testing for those most at-risk for COVID-19

Posted Sep 24th, 2020

Niagara Health prioritizing testing for those most at-risk for COVID-19

Niagara Health’s COVID-19 Assessment Centres are aligning with guidance from the Ontario Government to prioritize testing for those most at risk for having COVID-19.

Effective immediately, members of the public should only seek testing at assessment centres if they are:

  • Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by their public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
  • A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by their local public health unit; and
  • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. That includes people visiting a long-term care home. 

Testing at assessment centres will continue to be available on a limited basis for individuals who have no COVID symptoms, but are at greater risk due to their health condition or employment.

Niagara Health’s Assessment Centres are experiencing a surge in the numbers of people seeking testing and are moving to an appointment-only model beginning Monday, September 28, which will allow our teams to provide more efficient service to patients.

In the past week (September 17-23), our Assessment Centre teams performed 5,001 tests, over half of which were walk-ins. This is an average of more than 710 tests each day. Our teams completed a record 879 tests on Wednesday.

In August, the Assessment Centres completed 10,306 tests. By mid-day Wednesday of this week, our teams had already surpassed that mark for the month of September.

“We are doing everything we can to test as many people as possible each day and appreciate the community’s understanding as this surge has resulted in longer than normal wait times,” said Derek McNally, Executive Vice President Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Executive. “Leading up to Monday, we strongly recommend calling ahead to book an appointment as it is still the most efficient way to be seen. While our teams will see walk-ins until the end of day on September 27, walk-ins are not guaranteed an immediate test.”

To book an appointment, call 905-378-4647, ext. 42819 (4-CV19). Staff at the Assessment Centre will return calls as soon as possible to schedule a date and time for testing.

Full details on locations and hours of operations are available here.

As of Friday, a select number of pharmacies in Ontario will also begin offering testing by appointment only to those without COVID symptoms. Niagara is not scheduled to take part in the initial rollout.

Niagara Health System