Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Sites Prepares for Omicron Surge

With new testing guidelines in the face of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says it is preparing for a surge in demand for tests.

In a bulletin Monday, the task force said Ottawa’s testing centres and laboratories are feeling the impacts of a growing case count. The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ottawa jumped to 733 on Monday from 663 on Sunday. Last Monday, OPH had reported 431 active cases in its daily snapshot report.

“While the Taskforce has always strived to ensure seamless access to COVID-19 testing, that level of service will, unfortunately, be challenged over the coming weeks for a number of reasons,” the bulletin said.

Principal among these reasons is the requirement for high-risk contacts of suspected Omicron cases to seek testing immediately, rather than seven days since their last contact.

“That means in addition to the surge of symptomatic people and community outbreaks, even more people will be seeking COVID-19 testing,” the task force said.

The task force noted that a new temporary assessment centre recently opened in Stittsville. Staffing levels are being increased and other testing sites are extending their hours.

However, laboratory capacity is also under strain.

“Turnaround times for test results have also been impacted at the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA) with higher volumes leading to staffing and instrument issues. We’re doing everything we can to resolve these issues quickly. Additional staff have been onboarded and instruments are being adjusted to ensure the best turnaround time we can in the meantime,” the task force wrote.

The turnaround from the time a swab is taken at an assessment site to the result is 37 hours, up from 27 hours last week.

The task force is asking residents to be patient.

“Please self-isolate if you are feeling unwell or have been exposed, visit to book a COVID-19 test appointment, and stay home until you receive your results,” the task force said. “It is critical to remain isolated until you receive a negative COVID-19 result through the Province of Ontario’s results portal or the relevant hospital’s results portal. Do not assume ‘no news is good news during these times when results are delayed.”

Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, said Monday that residents who test positive should reach out to close contacts themselves since the surge in testing is also creating a backlog for contact tracers. If someone tells you they’ve tested positive and you’re a close contact, you are urged to seek a test immediately, regardless of your vaccination status. Do not wait for OPH to call you.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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