London

Symptomatic? Health unit says that's when you should get tested as London sites overwhelmed

For the third day in a row, London's COVID-19 assessment centres have been flooded, prompting the health unit to tell people to stay away unless they are symptomatic. 

Police were at the Carling Heights testing centre Wednesday to help control traffic snaking onto Adelaide

People were waiting up to three hours at the Oakridge testing facility on Wednesday September 16, 2020. (Colin Butler/ CBC News)

For the third day in a row, London's COVID-19 assessment centres have been flooded, prompting the health unit to tell people to stay away unless they are symptomatic. 

Wait times were up to three hours at the Oakridge and the Carling Heights sites Wednesday. The day before, both centres closed mid-afternoon when they reached capacity of more than 400 tests conducted.  

Western University's testing facility was also busy, with reports of students waiting up to an hour to get a test. 

"The fact that we have to wait three hours in line at only two spots in the city to get tested is kinda ridiculous," said Filip Durca.

These Western students waited in line at the Oakridge testing facility but said the lineup was too long. They waited instead to be tested at the Carling Arena site. They were not symptomatic but said they knew someone who had tested positive. (Colin Butler/ CBC News)

The Western student, along with a carload of four friends, visited both testing sites Wednesday after one of their friends tested positive. They said they had hoped the process would be fast, as they were there as a precaution. 

It's visits like that that the Middlesex London Health Unit said is jamming up the line. In a series of social media posts, it said it would be forced to triage people according to symptoms.

"Due to the excessively high volume of patients requiring testing, we will be prioritizing patients with symptoms, those who require testing for medical procedures and contacts of a case," the health unit Tweeted.

Since students returned to London, the region's seen a bump in news cases with nine Western students infected with the virus and a community outbreak order in place as a result. That's led to a flood of people seeking tests. 

At the same time, numbers in the province are rising. Ontario reported another 315 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday — more than half of which are people under 40.

In an effort to curb the spread, Ontario said it will lower the limits on social gatherings. The current limit on social gatherings is 50 people indoors and 100 outdoors.

The lineup at the Oakridge testing facility snaked around the block Wednesday. Wait times have been up to three hours all week. (Colin Bulter/CBC News)

At the Carling Heights site, London police were called for traffic control as cars snaked out onto Adelaide Street. People were directed to parking lots and side streets to avoid the main road.

A healthcare worker who had sat for three hours at Oakridge said she was required to get a test in order to return to work.

"I had a migraine yesterday and I need to do this," she said. "I don't think a test should be done as a preventative thing. It should be done if you have symptoms."

The Oakridge Arena assessment centre at 825 Valetta Street is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, while the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre at 656 Elizabeth Street tests people from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.

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