Ottawa

13 Ottawa pharmacies to begin offering COVID-19 tests Friday

Thirteen Ottawa pharmacies will begin offering free COVID-19 tests Friday to people who have no symptoms of the viral illness, the province says.

Province trying to reduce lineups at existing testing sites

Certain Ontario pharmacies will soon be able to provide COVID-19 tests to people by appointment. In Ottawa, 10 of the first 13 pharmacies to offer the tests are Shoppers Drug Mart locations. (Eduardo Lima/The Canadian Press)

Thirteen Ottawa pharmacies will begin offering free COVID-19 tests Friday to people who have no symptoms of the viral illness, the province says.

Last week, Premier Doug Ford announced the province would be allowing pharmacists to perform the tests in order to alleviate some of the pressures facing Ontario's existing COVID-19 assessment centres.

Long lineups have been a major problem recently at Ottawa's test sites, with stories of people waiting more than four hours for a throat or nose swab.

As of Sept. 25, the following pharmacies in Ottawa will be offering tests:

  • Cedarview Pharmacy, 12-4100 Strandherd Dr.
  • Medicine Shoppe, 19-5303 Canotek Rd.
  • Rexall, 1615 Orléans Blvd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1-2148 Carling Ave.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1309 Carling Ave.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1102 Klondike Rd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1937 Portobello Blvd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 2954 St. Joseph Blvd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 3940 Innes Rd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 541 Montreal Rd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 455 Bank St.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 647 Earl Armstrong Rd.
  • Shoppers Drug Mart, 1180 Walkley Rd.

Friday ambitious for some pharmacies 

The Ontario Pharmacists Association warned not all the pharmacies identified for testing in Ontario will be prepared to start Friday.  

"It may not be [that] all stores [are] ready to go immediately as stores adjust to the necessary precautions and changes they might need to make to their workflow," said board of directors chair Jen Baker on Wednesday. 

Those precautions include proper cleaning, directional signs, making a separate space for the test and ensuring the right personal protective equipment is in place. Stores will also have to perform a pre-screening process to make sure only asymptomatic people are being tested.

"There will be funding associated with performing the COVID-19 testing in the pharmacies, so that could be used to hire additional staff…should they find that they need to, in order to accommodate the demand in the community." 

Baker said pharmacies are also busy trying to figure out how to implement COVID-19 testing and the flu shot program at the same time. She said many pharmacies are opting to do appointments for flu shots too and looking at other management programs such as allocating certain times of day for each service.  

Anyone seeking a COVID-19 test must first make an appointment. More locations will be announced in the coming weeks, the province said Wednesday.

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