OTTAWA -- Ottawa's COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says it is prepared for an increase in COVID-19 testing volumes in September when students return to school.

Last September, parents lined up for hours outside of assessment centres to have their children undergo COVID-19 testing before they could return to classrooms, but the taskforce is saying this year will be different.

"It is important to note several key differences this school year compared to the 2020 school year," a bulletin from the taskforce said Friday. "Last fall, Ottawa’s assessment centres and labs needed to scale up operations with additional equipment, resources, and staff to be able to meet the community’s needs and produce timely results. Additionally, with the move to appointment-based testing, there are no longer long lines or wait times. Same-day or next-day appointments are available, which is our goal."

Local laboratories are also able to offer results within 24 to 48 hours. Lately, the wait time between when a swab is taken at an assessment site to the result has been less than a day.

The COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says each of Ottawa’s assessment centres and care clinics will remain open in September.

Different testing centres have different age eligibilities.

  • The Brewer CHEO Assessment Centre: Open Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Ages: 2 months to 18 years)
  • COVID-19 Drive-Thru Assessment Centre at 300 Coventry Road: Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Ages: 10 years and older)
  • The Moodie Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (Ages: 6 months and older)
  • The Ray Friel Care and Testing Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Ages: 6 months and older)
  • Centretown Community Health Centre: Open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Ages 6 month sand older)
  • Sandy Hill Community Health Centre: Open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 pm. (Ages: 6 months and older)
  • Somerset West Community Health Centre: Open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday (Ages: 3 years and older)

All students and staff returning to classrooms this fall must undergo daily COVID-19 screening. The province's online tool includes steps on what to do and when to isolate or seek a test.

The Ontario government also released an updated list of symptoms that require testing, which the Ottawa taskforce expects will reduce the burden on assessment centres.

"Parents should seek testing for their child if a symptom is new or worsening and not related to other known causes or conditions. For example, students who have symptoms due to pre-existing or ongoing conditions, such as allergies, will not require a test to attend school," it said.

"Children who develop symptoms that are no longer on the list would still stay home from school until their symptoms resolve but would not need a COVID-19 test."

According to the provincial government, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 that require immediate self-isolation and COVID19 testing include:

  • Fever (temperature of 37.8°C/100.0°F or greater) and/or chills
  • Cough that is new or worsening (e.g. continuous, more than usual if chronic cough) including croup (barking cough, making a whistling noise when breathing) and that is not related to other known causes or conditions for which current symptoms do not represent a flare-up/exacerbation related to infection (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea, out of breath, unable to breathe deeply, wheeze, that is worse than usual if chronically short of breath) that is not related to other known causes or conditions (e.g., chronic heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • New olfactory or taste disorder (decrease or loss of smell or taste) that is not related to other known causes or conditions (e.g., nasal polyps, allergies, neurological disorders)
  • Nausea, vomiting and/or Diarrhea that is not related to other known causes or conditions (e.g. transient vomiting due to anxiety in children, chronic vestibular dysfunction, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, side effect of medication)