If you want to get tested for COVID-19 in Ontario, you now need to make an appointment.
The new province-wide measure, which was announced on Friday, is intended to prepare Ontario’s 150+ testing centres for the impending winter.
The new model will provide, “certainty to patients as to when they can receive a test during the cold winter months,” and will allow, “assessment centres to conduct enhanced screening.”
Although the new measure takes affect on October 6, testing centres stopped accepting walk-ins on Sunday so that the the province’s lab network could start processing the more than 60,000 tests that are currently backlogged.
The backlog, and rising case count, also caused Toronto Public Health to temporarily suspend contact tracing for positive patients, although the Ministry of Health then deployed 200 staff to assist.
By doing away with walk-ins, Ontario hopes to resolve the long lines and growing wait times testing centres have been plagued with in recent weeks.
The new appointment-based model does not affect mobile testing or pop-up testing centres, and the province remains committed to reaching vulnerable populations.
On September 24, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, announced that Ontarians should only seek a coronavirus test at one of the province’s official testing centres if they were showing symptoms of the virus or had been in contact with someone with a confirmed case. Asymptomatic individuals can get tested at a pharmacy.
The province hopes to increase its testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by mid-October and 68,000 tests per day by mid-November.
On Monday, October 5, Ontario reported 615 new coronavirus cases.