People turned away from both London COVID-19 assessment centres after reaching capacity

Western University doubled its COVID-19 testing capacity after having turn away hundreds of students yesterday, and London's two assessment centres saw hours-long line-ups as fears about a community outbreak of the deadly coronavirus continued to grow.

The university turned away hundreds who wanted to get tested on campus Monday

The line up of cars at the Carling Heights assessment centre was backed up to Adelaide Street on Tuesday at noon. The health unit says wait times are about 3 hours. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

London's two assessment centres saw hours-long line-ups Tuesday and by mid-afternoon, were turning people away saying they had reached capacity. 

It was the second straight day the Oakridge Arena and the Carling Heights Community Centre saw unprecedented people seeking a test, with 414 people swabbed at the Carling Heights location and 355 tests at the Oakridge assessment centre on Monday.

Western University also doubled its COVID-19 testing capacity Tuesday from 200 to 500 after turning away hundreds of students the day before. 

"If you don't have symptoms or contact with a confirmed case, we do not want you to get tested. Currently, the assessment centres are overwhelmed," said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie. 

Vehicles were lined up down Deer Park Circle to get a COVID-19 test at the Oakridge Arena on Sept. 15, 2020 0:31

The Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) declared a community outbreak this past weekend after Western University students tested positive for the virus. A community outbreak is one that could be spread across the whole community or through a defined sub-group where there is no specific facility, such as a retirement home, linked to the outbreak. 

Tuesday, MLHU said eight Western students had tested positive, as well as one additional person not enrolled at the school. It said it anticipated that number to rise this week. 

Vehicles were backed up down Adelaide Street in London, Ont. to get a COVID-19 test at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre on Sept. 15, 2020. 0:28

While the infected students have not attended classes or activities on campus, they have been to downtown bars and restaurants, and socialized with students in neighbouring housing units, the health unit said.

Monday, London Mayor Ed Holder said students, and anyone not obeying physical distancing and masking rules could expect a fine. 

Carloads of people, as well as others on foot, are assessed by health care workers at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre on Tuesday. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

"Western encourages members of the campus community to get tested ONLY if they are symptomatic or have been in contact with a positive confirmed COVID-19 case," university administrators told students in a social media post on Tuesday. 

"If we ever needed evidence to show there's still a risk from COVID-19 in the community, this is it," said Dr. Chris Mackie, London's medical officer of health in a statement.


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