Thunder Bay

COVID-19 test results in Kenora available within 48 hours

If you get a COVID-19 swab done at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital (LWDH), you can expect results to come back within 48 hours.

Northwestern Health Unit says region has highest testing rate in northern Ontario

Lake of the Woods Hospital in Kenora can receive its COVID-19 test results within 48 hours from a lab in Winnipeg. (

If you get a COVID-19 swab done at the Lake of the Woods District Hospital (LWDH) in Kenora, you can expect results to come back within 48 hours.

The quick turnaround time comes after the hospital was approved earlier this week to send its swabs to a lab in Winnipeg, a two hour drive east from the northwestern Ontario  city. Previously, tests were being sent to Toronto, nearly 1900 km away.

"We're now getting test results within 24 to 48 hours, rather than the five to six days that we were receiving from Toronto," said Ray Racette, the president and CEO of the Lake of the Woods District Hospital.  "So, we really appreciate the approval." 

Racette said the hospital expects to have about 200 test kits for its own use, which can then be processed in the hospital lab, delivering results within 45 minutes.

He said the goal is to acquire more of the test kits, but with a global shortage, the hospital will use those kits on an as-determined basis.

Thunder Bay's Regional Health Sciences Centre received only 60 of the test kits.

The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) said it was pleased with the rate of testing taking place in its jurisdiction, with over 700 COVID-19 tests complete. Nearly 500 results have come back as negative, with only 10 confirmed cases in its catchment area.

"The testing is ongoing,  and we actually have one of the highest testing rates in the north. We have performed, or have pending, over 700 tests in our area," said Dr. Ian Gemmill, the acting medical officer of health for the NWHU.

Gemmill said the northwestern part of the province has not been hit by a large outbreak of COVID-19, which is good news, but emphasized social distancing, and keeping travel to a minimum was important.

More beds

Racette said the LWDH was working to increase the number of beds in the facility, for a surge of patients that could happen within the next two weeks.

He said the hospital has around 70 beds, but was trying to increase that figure to 90. He said the hospital was looking at a variety of options, including using cots, if needed.

Racette said LWDH was working with Pinecrest Nursing Home in Kenora to put hospital patients, who were waiting for beds to open in the long-term care home, in a separate wing of that building.  He said that would free up 8 beds at the hospital.


Jeff Walters


Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Jeff is proud to work in his hometown, as well as throughout northwestern Ontario. Away from work, you can find him skiing (on water or snow), curling, out at the lake or flying.