As some hospitals deal with a surge of people with mild or no symptoms seeking COVID-19 tests, an Ontario doctor is asking Canadians to avoid coming to the emergency room unless the symptoms are moderate or severe.
Dr. Andrew Healey, chief of emergency medicine at the William Osler Health System in the Greater Toronto Area, says the influx of people seeking COVID-19 tests with mild symptoms is “delaying care for other patients.”
“We have to bring people through a triage process or registration process for each of those patients. It takes up very important resources that … are quite limited at the moment,” he told CTV News.
Healey stressed that people experiencing concerning symptoms that can’t be managed at home, like chest pains, shortness of breath or high fever, should be coming to the emergency room. Otherwise, people with mild or no symptoms should go to a testing centre.
“If you know that the main reason for your visit is for a COVID swab or you have mild symptoms and you want to confirm that you have COVID-19, the purpose of testing centres is for that purpose,” he said. “The emergency department really can’t manage that degree of volume.”
The highly transmissible Omicron variant has driven a surge of COVID-19 cases throughout Canada. As a result, capacity at COVID-19 testing centres across Canada has been limited. In some parts of the country, people have had to wait 10 days or longer for an appointment at a testing centre.
Healey says people dealing with mild symptoms and unable to find a COVID-19 test appointment should instead stay home and self-isolate.
“We would want people to confirm that they have the diagnosis in some way. But we also understand that … there’s limited access to testing at the moment,” he said.
“If you are symptomatic, no test is going to clear you to leave isolation, so please, please self-isolate at home.”
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