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Ottawa medical labs ramp up testing for COVID-19
OTTAWA -- CHEO is stepping in to help clear the backlog of COVID-19 tests waiting to be analyzed in Ottawa and across Ontario.
The Medical Laboratory Professionals' Association of Ontario says CHEO is one of “eight to ten” hospitals that have stepped in to help analyze the tests for COVID-19, and the backlog should be reduced in a week or two.
Analyzing each test for novel coronavirus has been primarily done at one of four public health laboratories across Ontario, including one in Ottawa.
Ontario’s Ministry of Health says there are still 8,400 cases under investigation. Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches told reporters on Monday that she’s hearing people are waiting up to seven days to get the results back.
Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario CEO Michelle Hoad tells CTV News at Six that “eight to ten additional hospitals have signed on to provide that testing, so that will alleviate pressure within all of Ontario.”
As of Monday, CHEO is one of the labs that will test swab samples for COVID-19.
“It’s not just a turn-switch solution,” said Hoad, when discussing what it takes to prepare a hospital lab to test for COVID-19.
“A laboratory needs to apply to the ministry in order to have that licence. A lot of hospitals already have that licence, but it’s preparing the laboratory with the correct equipment. It’s providing testing to the medical lab technologist that’s doing that work. It’s then validating those machines and then testing to ensure it’s done accurately. And then once it all happens, then they get going.”
Hoad says it will take the labs a bit of time to work through the backlog of 8,000 tests in Ottawa and across Ontario.
“The best situation you’re in right now from an Ottawa perspective is you actually have a large health care centre, as in CHEO, that has opened up the capacity to take and alleviate the pressure that is happening at your local public health lab,” said Hoad.
“The public should start to see a difference in a week, two weeks most likely.”
The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association says there has been several reasons for the backlog in testing, including the implementation of COVID-19 testing, the testing capacity, supplies and staffing levels.