Kitchener-Waterloo

Expect longer wait times as testing ramps up in Waterloo region

Efforts to quickly ramp up COVID-19 testing in Waterloo region mean that longer wait times should be expected, especially at the region’s new drive-through site, acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu Li Wang said Friday.

Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang encouraged people to be kind and patient while awaiting tests

A nurse with William Osler Health System administers a test for COVID-19 at a drive-through assessment centre in the Toronto area. Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang says longer wait times are to be expected in K-W as testing ramps up, especially at the region's drive-through site. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Efforts to quickly ramp up COVID-19 testing in Waterloo region mean that longer wait times should be expected, especially at the region's new drive-through site, acting medical officer of health Dr. Hsiu Li Wang said Friday.

Wang encouraged anyone getting tested to exercise their patience and kindness while waiting in line.

"Everyone at the testing site is doing what they can to provide the best service to our residents," she told reporters during a media briefing.

There are now four testing sites in the region, and Wang said people should explore their options.

New Forest Heights staff cases considered 'low-risk'

Four new staff cases of COVID-19 were reported at the Forest Heights Long-Term Care Home on Friday. The home has been hit hard by the pandemic, with a total of 178 resident cases and 73 staff cases reported to date.

Wang noted the new cases were picked up during a recent round of testing at the home. All cases were asymptomatic and she said "a careful assessment" of each case determined that staff had been wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.

Risk to residents and to other staff is considered low, Wang said.

"Asymptomatic cases being picked up during staff testing is likely something we will continue to see and see more of as long-term care and retirement homes now are undertaking regular testing of their staff," she said.

As a result, an outbreak will no longer be declared at a home when a single new case is picked up, she said.

No new enforcement orders

No new charges were issued between June 16 and June 22 for people violating the province's emergency orders, Wang said.

Bylaw officers made 200 site visits where either education or a warning was issued, and 244 visits where no action was required, she said.

"We are doing a good job but as we have seen south of Canadian border, we must not let up on the recommended public health measures," said Wang.

Physical distancing, hand washing and staying home when sick are still considered the gold standard for prevention measures, Wang said. When physical distancing isn't required, masks are encouraged.

The region of Waterloo is considering a bylaw that would make masks mandatory on Grand River Transit. Staff will consider options that will be presented to council at a meeting on July 6 or 7.

Right now, wearing masks is encouraged while on public transit but is not required.

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