OTTAWA -- COVID-19 assessment centres in Ottawa have seen a spike in demand for COVID-19 tests in the past couple of days as significantly more children are being tested.

Local assessment centres processed 2,208 swabs on Feb. 22, compared to 1,662 on Feb. 15 and 1,545 on Feb. 8, for example. 

The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says this recent spike is likely due to more stringent screening guidelines for schools and childcare.

"A number of assessment centres across Ottawa saw an uptick in processed swabs both on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23," the taskforce said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa. "This increase is presumably tied to the Ontario government’s updated COVID-19 guidance for schools, indicating that staff, students and children must stay home and get tested for COVID-19, even if they only have one minor COVID-19 symptom."

The Ontario government updated its COVID-19 screening tool for children on Friday. Ottawa Public Health updated its own tool on Sunday.

Data provided by the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce show a significant spike in the number of children and youth tested at the assessment centre at the Brewer Arena on Monday and Tuesday, compared to previous days.

More than 450 child and youth swabs were taken Monday, and about 425 were taken on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, OPH reported zero new cases of COVID-19 in children under 10 and five new cases in the 10 to 19 age category, based on data pulled at 3 p.m. Feb. 22.

There were fewer than 100 child and youth swabs taken at the same site the previous Monday, Feb. 15, and around 125 were taken on Feb. 16. 

Single symptom screening was in place when school first returned last September following the first wave of COVID-19. At the time, testing sites were walk-in based, and it led to lines and hours-long waits for parents who needed to have their children tested before they could return to school.

The taskforce says labs ramped up capacity over the fall and the appointment-based system in place now has eased wait times.

"If residents need to make an appointment to get a COVID-19 test, there will be one available to them at one of Ottawa’s testing sites. Additionally, with the move to appointment-based testing, there are no longer long lines or wait times, and same-day or next-day appointments are frequently available," the taskforce said. "Ottawa’s labs have also significantly cut down the number of backlogged tests and results are consistently being turned around in 48 hours, often only 24 hours."

According to the taskforce's most recent update on Tuesday afternoon, the average turnaround time from the time a swab is taken at a testing site to the result was 19 hours.

You can find a link to Ottawa Public Health's COVID-19 screening tool here:

To book an appointment at a COVID-19 assessment centre in Ottawa, click here: