By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative
Pressure has been taken off Chatham-Kent’s COVID-19 assessment centre thanks to new provincial guidelines and pharmacy testing.
The number of people seeking testing is down to approximately 100 persons per day, according to Lori Marshall, CEO and president of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance (CKHA).
When the academic year began, the centre – which on Oct. 5 moved from Emma Street to its new location at the St. Clair College HealthPlex – saw more than 200 individuals per day.
Back-to-school COVID concerns caused wait problems and testing backlogs throughout the province, prompting Ontario to change its guidelines so students with the usual “sniffles” would not have to get tested.
READ MORE: New COVID screening tool relieves some C-K school board concerns
“The major change we’ve seen is the change in screening criteria from kids to be able to go back to school,” Marshall said. “I think they’re going well. I did a walkthrough the other day; I think the booking is working well and were hopeful that the public will be appreciative of the moves that we made.”
Wait times to book an appointment have been reduced to two or three days. Asymptomatic people are being asked to get tested at the Shoppers Drug Mart on St. Clair Street in Chatham, which is offering free testing.
People eligible for testing are those who are residents or workers in long-term care homes; people who are visitors to such facilities; residents or workers in homeless shelters; international students who have passed their 14-day quarantine periods; farm workers; people who require testing for travel clearance, but have not been in contact with a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case in the last 14 days; and people who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 30 days.
Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said the second testing site has greatly taken the pressure off the laboratory system, as it sends the pharmacy test specimens to the U.S for processing
“Which is allowing our laboratory to concentrate on symptomatic people who need a diagnosis, and outbreak management, which is really what we should be doing as the highest priority,” he said.
A few appointment spots are also being set aside every day at the assessment centre to support individuals that CK Public Health might identify as at risk or who were in significant contact with a known case.
READ MORE: COVID-19 testing expands in C-K