New mobile testing sites and access to younger children, COVID-19 testing to ramp up in Ottawa
Residents line up outside the Brewer Arena in Ottawa to be tested for COVID-19, Sept. 14, 2020. (Chris Black / CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- Ottawa Public Health and the Champlain COVID-19 Response Committee are working to increase COVID-19 testing capacity in Ottawa, following a week of long lines at COVID-19 assessment facilities.
And now, the Ontario Government is looking at providing testing in pharmacies by the end of next week.
Ottawa hasn't seen COVID-19 numbers this high since early May. As a result, testing sites are overwhelmed.
"Exceeding expectations, in terms of the volume of people we were expecting to see," said Dr. Alan Forster, with the Champlain COVID-19 Response Committee.
New measures are being rolled out to help with the backlog.
In Ottawa, three new mobile testing sites will rotate around the city. The drive-thru site at RCGT park will soon test children 13 and under, according to Ottawa city councillor Tim Tierney.
A new facility is opening in the city’s east end and an additional drive-thru site is coming as well, the location will be announced next week.
Asymptomatic people could soon get tested at local pharmacies as well.
"The goal is to create access for those patients who are doing asymptomatic testing, so the testing centres can take care of those who are exhibiting symptoms first," said Jen Baker, Chair of the Board of Directors with the Ontario Pharmacists Association.
Baker said testing would first be rolled out in cities considered hot spots, such as Ottawa, and then deployed across the province.
Speaking in Ottawa Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford said some pharmacy testing could be available "hopefully by this time next week."
However, it will be up to pharmacies to jump in.
"As pharmacists, ethically, we want to help the public," said Jean Brisson, pharmacist and owner of Pharmacie Brisson.
“My concern is mostly ensuring safety within the environment of the pharmacy - whether the pharmacy can actually provide, physically, the space for COVID testing."
Through these new measures testing capacity in Ottawa is expected to double in the next two weeks.