Thunder Bay

Contact Thunder Bay health unit for COVID-19 testing, says TBDHU medical officer of health

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is encouraging everyone to get tested for COVID-19, even if they aren't showing any symptoms,  but Thunder Bay’s medical officer of health says those looking for a test should still go through the proper channels.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford encouraging everyone to get tested, even if asymptomatic

Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health and CEO of the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, says people wishing to be tested for COVID-19 should contact the health unit first, and not the assessment centre at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. (Gord Ellis/CBC Thunder Bay)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is encouraging everyone to get tested for COVID-19, even if they aren't showing any symptoms,  but Thunder Bay's medical officer of health says those looking for a test should still go through the proper channels.

Ford issued the plea on Sunday, after Ontario fell short of its testing target for the seventh day in a row.

"I'm asking the people of Ontario, if you are worried if you have COVID-19, or that you've been exposed to someone who has COVID-19, even if you're not showing symptoms, please go get a test," Ford said. "Go get tested ... you will not be turned away." 

However, Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU), said people shouldn't just show up at the assessment centre at the city hospital.

"The current arrangement that we have with the assessment centre at the hospital is for individuals to phone [the TBDHU], and we will get them an appointment," DeMille said Monday. "I would still encourage people to do that."

"You want to have controlled access to the assessment centre, so that not a whole bunch of people are there at the same time, just for the purposes of being able to do the testing safely."

DeMille said she expects the province to increase testing availability, and more details about how that will look are expected Monday or Tuesday.

As for COVID-19 in Thunder Bay, DeMille said she remains "cautiously optimistic."

Two new cases of the virus in the city were confirmed on Wednesday, May 20. Both individuals have been hospitalized at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

"Those were our only two cases over this last week," DeMille said. "I think it just reflects the fact that our numbers have significantly dropped in terms of the positive cases that we're seeing."

But, it's "still an anxious time," she said.

"We've said we have low levels, and we got it under control, but now that people are interacting more, of course, there's a possibility that what virus exists is now spreading," DeMille said. "Testing is always a bit of a delayed way of finding out what's happened, because you have to wait for the positive result to get back."

"Then you look back, and you say 'okay, this person probably acquired the virus a couple of weeks ago," she said. "We're always a little bit behind in what gets reported to us."

DeMille said the city is coming off the first wave of COVID-19, but she expects clusters of cases will continue to appear.

"We have to absolutely be thinking about that next wave of the pandemic," she said. "Certainly, when you look at ... pandemics associated with the respiratory viruses, which is usually the flu, there is always a second wave."

"Respiratory viruses tend to circulate more in the fall, or in the winter time," DeMille said. "If this one follows the same pattern of those other respiratory viruses, and other coronaviruses, we will see it in the fall, and in the winter."

 

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