CKHA bracing for testing surge

COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance. August 11, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Lori Marshall via Twitter)

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance is bracing for longer lineups at its COVID-19 assessment centre and will make changes if necessary.

CEO Lori Marshall said extra staffing hours and additional rooms will be added if the swab testing lineups get too long. Marshall said the assessment centre normally gets around 100 people a day but that could change if there’s an increase in testing demand or if a possible second coronavirus wave arrives. Marshall said she and her team continue to explore other potential options to address any surge in testing.

“We want to be prepared and avoid any of the lineups that we’re seeing in other jurisdictions in the province,” said Marshall.

Some people in London, Toronto, and Ottawa had to wait several hours on Wednesday to get tested. Among the causes of long lineups in Toronto is a requirement for students to get a negative test before they’re allowed to return to class if they have been in isolation.

CK Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Colby said there’s no provincial requirement for that and there’s no need for such a policy in Chatham-Kent.┬áHe said if there are outbreaks in the local school system, only students directed to the assessment centre by public health would go to get swabbed to avoid overwhelming the centre.

“We would be doing some very aggressive messaging around that aspect to make sure things don’t get overwhelmed. Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with it but we will if we must,” the doctor added.

Colby added laboratories across the province are also expressing concern about handling a possible huge increase in demand for testing. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford are promising increased testing is coming. Ford said his team has been talking to pharmacies about possibly administering the tests.