Grey Bruce Health Unit warns about cluster and COVID-19 testing demand

A woman is given a nasal swab test for COVID-19. File photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo / dolgachov

The Grey Bruce Medical Officer of Health says the beginning of October has seen demand for COVID-19 testing skyrocket in Grey and Bruce Counties.

Dr. Ian Arra said hospitals are being encouraged to increase hours of operation and staffing numbers at assessment centres to accommodate demand.

Local COVID-19 assessment centres are operated by Grey Bruce Health Services, South Bruce Grey Health Centre and Hanover and District Hospital.

Since the return to school, volumes at the Kincardine Assessment Centre have increased dramatically. Daily averages have spiked from 50-75 at the end of August to 130-170 last week, and 300-350 this week.

The long line ups of cars trying to get into the hospital continue to cause traffic congestion. South Bruce Grey Health Centre has extended hours for the COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the Kincardine hospital to 10 a.m.to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday. Cars will not be allowed to line up prior to 9:50 a.m.

Grey Bruce Health Services is opening up their Assessment Centre this weekend on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and both days are a temporary measure to increase access and reduce the number of people waiting for a test. In addition, expanded hours during the week will permit an additional 200 people per week to get tested. In the past 14 days, 2,000 tests have been done at Grey Bruce Health Services.

Over the last two weeks, Hanover and District Hospital has implemented measures to accommodate for the increased volumes at its COVID-19 Assessment Centre. The hours of operation have increased by 50 per cent; open from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“The physicians, nursing staff, and admin staff at the assessment centers are burning the candle at both ends to ensure children and patients are not waiting. Although public health does not operate assessment centres, we will spare no resource or effort to support health care workers to provide testing to all people that need it in a timely fashion,” said Dr. Arra. “Our health care workers deserve all the support that they need, so they can ensure no children who are unwell with symptoms deemed by their provider to be possible COVID19 goes to sleep not tested.”

Meanwhile, the Grey Bruce Health Unit said it has identified “a cluster of COVID-19 cases in eastern Grey County.”

The health unit said the cluster results from individuals failing to adhere to social gathering recommendations, regulations and basic COVID-19 preventative guidelines, noting that “a number of active cases share a common association.”

Approximately 100 contacts, including 32 known “high-risk close contacts” have been followed up with by the GBHU over the last few days within this one cluster, and subsequent testing confirmed five individuals positive for COVID-19.

It is expected a few more people currently being monitored by the health unit as a result of the cluster could test positive for the virus in the coming days.

The release notes that this cluster will be posted on a secure national monitoring site, accessed only by public health agencies, to assist in identifying any potential COVID-19 links or cases outside Grey and Bruce.

-With files from Adam Bell