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Coronavirus: Kingston assessment centre only testing for COVID-19 for recent travellers

A dedicated COVID-19 assessment center has now opened in Kingston
Kingston public health officials say, at this point, only residents who have recently traveled, will be assessed or tested for COVID-19.

A dedicated novel coronavirus assessment centre has opened in Kingston, Ont., but local public health officials want residents to know that only recent travellers will be tested for COVID-19.

On Saturday, the COVID-19 testing centre opened at Hotel Dieu’s St. Joseph‘s Building.

According to Dr. Kieran Moore, medical officer for health at Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health, the centre screened 80 people, assessed 20 and swabbed for COVID-19 in 11 of those patients. As of Saturday, there have been no positive cases in the city, Moore said.

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A sign on the front door reads that people will only be tested for the virus if they meet specific testing criteria set by Public Health Ontario.

The list includes:

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  • Symptomatic contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
  • Individuals requiring hospital admission with respiratory illness.
  • Healthcare workers with respiratory illness.
  • Residents of long-term care or retirement homes who have a new respiratory illness.
  • First Nations community members living on-reserve with respiratory illness.

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Moore wanted to make it clear that at this time that the testing centre will only be swabbing people who have travelled within the last 14 days and who are showing signs of any of the following COVID-19 symptoms: fever, a cough or difficulty breathing.

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He said this is why only 11 of the 80 people who came into the assessment centre were actually swabbed for the virus, since only those people had recently travelled and also showed symptoms that may be linked to the virus.

Moore stressed that people who are simply showing symptoms of respiratory illness who have not travelled should not attend the assessment centre, since diseases like the flu are still common at this time, and public health officials do not want those infected with the flu to infect others at the assessment centre.

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A secondary centre will be opening to prepare those who test positive for the virus for entrance to hospital. This location is not publicly accessible and can only be accessed if public health officials find you test positive at the Hotel Dieu assessment centre.

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At this secondary location, Moore said the patients will receive preparatory work like chest x-rays and blood work, meant to keep patients from having to go to the emergency room.

“Our main goal is to allow emergency room teams to keep doing the excellent work their doing, without having a high number of COVID-19 cases to deal with,” Moore said.

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Moore suggests that the vast majority of respiratory infections will resolve themselves on their own. If you are feeling ill, he said, stay home and stay away from work until 24 hours after you stop showing symptoms.

According to KFL&A’s Public Health website, the risk for contracting the virus is in the Kingston region is still currently low.

The assessment centre at Hotel Dieu is open daily from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.

— With files from Kraig Krause.