New COVID-19 drive-thru testing centres planned as testing demand soars in Ottawa
OTTAWA -- As hundreds of people lined up before dawn for a test at the COVID-19 Brewer Assessment Centre on Friday, plans were in the works for new drive-thru COVID-19 testing facilities in Ottawa.
Social media posts showed long lines outside the Brewer Arena before 7 a.m. on Friday morning, as demand continues to overwhelm Ottawa's four testing centres.
Kiavash Najafi posted a photo on Twitter, saying "Leaving at 6:20 a.m. for a morning bike ride to hold a spot in COVID line in Ottawa for our toddler who has a fever."
The Ottawa Hospital announced on Wednesday that testing hours at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena are now expanded to 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
Three mobile pop-up testing sites are scheduled to open in Ottawa this weekend, including at two schools with confirmed COVID-19 cases. MPP Lisa MacLeod told CTV Morning Live the third pop-up mobile testing site will be set up at the Heron Road COVID-19 Care Clinic to help take pressure off the facility.
Speaking on CTV Morning Live Friday morning, Dr. Alan Forster of the Champlain COVID-19 Response Committee, which looks after the COVID-19 response for Ottawa and eastern Ontario, said plans are in the works to expand testing capacity.
Dr. Forster noted the new drive-thru COVID-19 testing centre on Coventry Road has exceeded expectations in terms of volumes, with up to 450 people a day being tested.
"We're really pleased with the effect we've had here, and it seems to be working very well for people to take the test. There's an efficiency there, the booking procedure works very well, so yes we will be expanding."
CTV Morning Live host Annette Goerner asked Dr. Forster where the new COVID-19 drive-thru locations could be located.
"We're working through those details right now. As has been mentioned, there's has been work to expand in the east-end of Ottawa, as well we're looking at other parts of the city. We expect some announcements on that soon," said Dr. Forster.
Earlier this week, CHEO President Alex Munter said on Twitter that hospitals "will soon run out of people" to expand testing and continue day-to-day operations in hospitals.
"One of the things we need to balance off is the need to maintain our health care operations back in the hospitals, so we need to make sure that we can continue providing essential health services while we're manning these centres," said Dr. Forster.
Dr. Forster told CTV Morning Live the initial goal is to expand testing capacity at the current locations, before setting up new sites.
"Our first priority at the moment is to make sure we can expand our hours of operation so that we can meet this surge in demand that's occurred in the last few weeks. At the same time, we're working to find alternative locations. We're working on that day and night."