Ottawa

COVID-19 testing sites extend hours as demand surges

Ottawa reported 61 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the highest daily tally since early May, pointing to a trend Mayor Jim Watson described as "concerning."

61 new cases confirmed Monday part of 'concerning' trend, mayor says

Ottawa Public Health, CHEO and The Ottawa Hospital have pledged to extend the hours of operation at two COVID-19 assessment centres as more people in the city seek tests. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Opening hours at two COVID-19 assessment centres will be extended in the coming days to accommodate higher volumes of people seeking coronavirus tests, Ottawa Public Health, CHEO and The Ottawa Hospital said in a joint statement on Monday. 

The statement said the health authorities are hiring more staff and training them so that the Brewer assessment centre can accept patients for 12 hours per day, seven days a week — four more hours per day than it is normally open.

The statement didn't say what the new extended hours would be for the drive-thru testing centre on Coventry Road, although it confirmed that technical issues related to the online booking system there have been resolved.

"We knew that with the kids returning to school we would see these volumes. To prepare, we have tripled staffing in the last month for testing children and youth at the [Brewer Arena assessment centre]. More are being trained and still more are being hired," the statement said. 

"We are doing everything we can to address the inconvenience of long wait times and line-ups."

The statement didn't say when the new hours will come into effect.

Highest daily count since May

The announcement comes on the same day Ottawa reported 61 new cases of COVID-19 — the city's highest daily tally since early May — and long lines were reported at testing sites.

That follows 47 new cases reported on Sunday, pointing to a trend Mayor Jim Watson described as "concerning."

"We're obviously still having trouble getting through to some people that having 20 or 30 people over for a house party, whether it's indoors or outdoors, with people you don't know is not a good idea," he told reporters.

"Aside from long-term care homes, the next largest group of people being infected are people in personal situations, not at restaurants, bars or gyms."

WATCH: Residents face long lines at Ottawa COVID-19 assessment centre 

Ottawa residents say they waited hours to be tested for COVID-19 at the Brewer Arena assessment centre Monday and are worried about what will happen once snow starts falling. 0:35

These are the highest daily totals of new confirmed cases since May 3, when there were 63.

Ottawa's five-day rolling average of confirmed cases sits at 36.8 per day, a figure that has doubled since the weekend of Sept. 5.

Ottawa has now had a total of 3,335 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 2,733 of them resolved. The number of known active cases has jumped to 334, and there's been one more death linked to COVID-19 for a total of 268.

The new cases are spread relatively evenly among age groups, with more than 60 per cent occurring in people under 40.

The reports from OPH don't necessarily reflect how many people tested positive for COVID-19 on the day they're made public; rather, they indicate the number of new cases OPH is notified of as of 2 p.m. the previous day.

 

There were long lines outside Ottawa's Brewer Arena assessment centre and the Moodie Drive COVID-19 clinic Monday morning, with some people reporting three- to four-hour waits for a test.

Tina Ziten Lyons, who said her daughter has "the sniffles," brought her to Brewer Arena to get tested. Ziten Lyons said she wants to know whether the family needs to self-isolate for 14 days as advised by OPH, but the long wait was frustrating.

"I don't think that this encourages people to come and get tested, and I think it's going to get worse as the weather gets worse," she said.

"They need to find a more feasible solution to getting children tested or they're going to have outbreaks in the school."

 

Ivan Cucak, also in line at Brewer, said he was "discouraged" by the long line.

"I don't really want to wait in line for four hours to get tested, especially in this weather," Cucak said.

The mayor said Monday he'd like to see testing capacity in the city increased, including another site in the east end.

"[People] shouldn't be having to wait for hours in line," Watson said.

 

The statement from the health authorities reminded people that testing is only recommended for those who have signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and individuals who have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

"It is best to wait five days since contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for the test to be as accurate as possible," the statement said.

Tuesday, the area's city councillor Shawn Menard tweeted there would be porta-potties and tents added to the site for people who were waiting.

Official hints at targeted restrictions

Elsewhere, a staff member at Pembroke's Fellowes High School has tested positive for COVID-19, according to the province's daily report on schools.

It's eastern Ontario's first confirmed COVID-19 case in a school outside Ottawa.

Provincewide, there were 313 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday — the highest daily case count in Ontario since early June.

A senior provincial official told CBC News there could be targeted restrictions in the hardest-hit areas if numbers kept rising.

Quebec reported 276 more positive tests Monday — the fifth day in a row the province has seen more than 200. 

With files from Sarah Kester

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