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Coronavirus: London, Ont., COVID-19 assessment centre sees 318 people on Day 1

During a media briefing hosted by the Middlesex-London Health Unit on Monday, medical officer of health Dr. Alex Summers said this is another wave driven by the Omicron variant. Sawyer Bogdan / Global News

Over 70 vehicles were lined up down the street within an hour if London’s first COVID-19 assessment centre opening for its second day.

Monday was the first day the assessment centre opened its doors at the Oakridge Arena at 825 Valetta Street in London.

On the first day, staff saw 318 patients in the pre-screen area. Of those, 68 were sent inside for further assessment, and of those, five were directed to urgent care or hospital for symptoms unrelated to COVID-19.

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Of the 68, Dr. Alex Summers, associate medical officer of health, could not say how many have the virus, but he did say that testing is being reserved for people who have to be hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms.

“As we are able to test, we will test, but we just have to be sure we are prioritizing,” Summers said. He said, through the assessment centre, they will know who needs to be tested as they are able to expand the testing process.

Summers estimates the MLHU currently has over 100 people they are monitoring for COVID-19. That can include people who came in contact with someone who had the virus and people with the common cold, which presents similar symptoms.

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As of March 17, there have been four positive cases of COVID-19 reported to the MLHU with one of the cases resolved.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: 2 new cases found in Middlesex-London

The Health Unit is monitoring people they have asked to self-isolate by periodically calling them to ensure they do not leave their home.

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Emily Williams, director of nursing and professional practice and patient safety at the London Health Science Centre, talked to reporters about the process people go through if they go to the assessment centre.

Isolated in their cars, people are first asked questions about symptoms, travel history and contact with anyone currently being monitored for COVID-19 by the Health Unit. From there, they are either give information about the virus and sent on their way or asked to pull over and await further assessment inside the arena.

London Health Sciences Centre workers outside the COVID-19 Assessment Centre in London at the Oakridge Arena waiting to asses people waiting in line. Sawyer Bogdan Global News

Inside the arena, people are asked to put on a mask, equally spaced out by tape while registering, and they are directed to take a seat in spaced out chairs to await further assessment.

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From that point, they are looked at by one of the LHSC staff.

READ MORE: Ontario government declares state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Summers reminds people that before visiting an assessment centre, the health unit and its partners recommend, if possible, using the province’s self-assessment tool online or calling Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000 for a telephone consultation if you are exhibiting symptoms.

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The assessment centre is meant to alleviate stress on the emergency department, urgent care centre and family doctor’s offices from people seeking assessment for COVID-19 related symptoms.

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The centre will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

READ MORE: London student task force delivers groceries to those in self-isolation during coronavirus outbreak

“It’s important all of us are taking these steps seriously, so we continue to protect our neighbours and community,” Summers said.

Summers emphasizes that the key to containing the virus is for everyone to practice social distancing and that people who need to self isolate take the situation seriously.

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