Changes coming to COVID-19 testing centres
BARRIE, ONT. -- Ontario announced tighter COVID-19 restrictions Friday amid mounting criticism that the government was ill-prepared for a second wave of the pandemic, which has seen crippling lines at assessment centres, a ballooning testing backlog, and a surge in new cases.
Simcoe Muskoka reported its highest weekly number of positive cases this week, which meant long lines and long waits at COVID clinics.
Starting Sunday, centres will discontinue drop-in testing, and on Tuesday, patients will require an appointment.
Officials at the Huronia Road Assessment Centre in Barrie say there's no money to provide scheduled testing.
Instead, the centre will offer hybrid testing for both appointments and walk-ins.
The newest COVID-19 assessment clinic at the former Barrie police station on Sperling Drive has seen an increase in testing.
"We've been able to triple appointment capacity by moving to this location," says Stella Johnson, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre emergency department director.
Johnson says the new facility allowed staff to test more patients faster, adding that they tested more than 500 people with most waiting just 90 minutes on Thursday.
She says they are ready for Tuesday's changes.
"We do have over 300 appointments available per day, so if you can book an appointment, show up at your designated time," Johnson says.
Testing at the Sperling location will move to appointment-based next week, and it will continue to be from the patient's vehicle.
The clinic says appointments are available for same-day bookings or days in advance.