OTTAWA -- Grocery store employees, essential workers and the families of health care workers who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 can now be tested at Ottawa's assessment clinic.

Ottawa Pubic Health has expanded the criteria for who can be tested at the COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena.

In a statement, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said Ottawa Public Health, the Ottawa Hospital and other partners have determined that more tests can be conducted to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

“In conversation with our health system partners, we know that the Brewer Arena Assessment Centre has capacity to test more people and we are encouraging people to make use of this service.”

The highest priority for testing in Ottawa includes:

  • Health care workers and staff who work in health care facilities
  • Residents and staff in long-term care facilities, retirement homes and other institutional settings (e.g. correctional facilities, homeless shelters)
  • Hospitalized patients admitted with respiratory symptoms
  • Members of remote, isolated, rural and/or indigenous communities

Ottawa Public Health is encouraging the following people to be tested for COVID-19 if they’re showing symptoms:

  • Close contacts of confirmed or probable cases
  • Individuals (children, partners, or household members) living with health care workers or with staff who work in health care facilities
  • Returning international travelers who seek medical attention
  • Critical infrastructure workers – including grocery stores, food services, maintenance and transportation workers, and utilities.

Initially, Ottawa Public Health and the Ottawa Hospital had said people should go to the COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre if they have a new or worsening cough and/or fever, and if they had travelled in the past 14 days outside of Canada or been in close contact with a positive case of COVID-19.

Speaking to Council on Wednesday, Dr. Etches said testing capacity was a problem in Ottawa.

Expanding COVID-19 testing

On Twitter, the Medical Officer of Health said Ottawa Public Health and the Champlain Health Regional Incident Command is working to ensure those who need testing are being tested.

Dr. Etches said details are being confirmed.

In response to a question about expanding testing, Dr. Etches added the goal to expand testing would focus on testing household members of health care workers and essential workers such as grocery store workers.