COVID assessment centres being expanded to meet increased demand

COVID-19 assessment centre 153 Christina St. Sarnia May 2020 (BlackburnNews.com photo by Dave Dentinger)

More COVID-19 testing centres in Sarnia-Lambton are being established to meet increased demand since the resumption of school.

Lambton Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sudit Ranade said the number of centres for the general public will be expanded.

“Where they will be is still being discussed and so that’ll be announced perhaps as early as next week, but certainly I know that some other primary care providers are also looking to start up assessment clinics where they could test for COVID and also assess for respiratory diseases,” said Ranade. “Somewhere between two and four I think would be the expectation that I would have. You know there might be one or two more sites around Sarnia and then one or more sites out in the county.”

Dr. Ranade also said student testing centres have been set-up at the former SCITS high school on Wellington Street, another is just outside Forest at Kimball Hall and another outside Petrolia at Lambton Centennial Public School.

He said the student clinics have been very, very busy.

“We’ve done almost 350 tests in total since we started last week, and we have those three sites operational. Some of them even within a day or two, the Sarnia site, for example, was fully booked for the next day or the day after, so we’re looking at ways that we can scale up and scale down the school testing as needed based on the demand.”

Dr. Ranade said the preferred testing model for assessment centres is appointment-based through Lambton Public Health.

Lambton’s top doc also said Thursday that with the second wave of COVID-19 taking hold across the country, we have to limit our social interactions.

Dr. Ranade told Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM) that social distancing is critical in the ongoing battle against a very contagious virus.

“Really try to get back to what’s essential about your life, and move to essential social contacts only. Social circles and all of these other things and places that people can be now, has given everyone the feeling that this is okay and that is okay, but the virus really doesn’t care why you’re socializing, all social activity puts you at the same risk,” he said.

Last week, the Ontario government reduced the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored and private social gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors.

In Wednesday night’s televised national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the second wave has begun in parts of the country. He said it appears large Thanksgiving gatherings will fall victim to the pandemic, but there’s still hope for Christmas if we strictly follow public health instructions.

-With files from Colin Gowdy and Sue Storr