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Coronavirus: Kelowna testing centre seeing growing demand, says Interior Health

The centre at 505 Doyle Avenue opened Tuesday, Aug. 4, and is Kelowna’s second testing site, with the first being the urgent and primary care centre on Harvey Avenue. Global News

A coronavirus testing centre in downtown Kelowna that opened this week is seeing steady demand, according to Interior Health.

On Friday, medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema told Global News that the centre on Doyle Avenue had tested approximately 50 people to date.

The centre opened Tuesday, Aug. 4, and is Kelowna’s second testing site, with the first being the urgent and primary care centre on Harvey Avenue.

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“We are testing individuals,” said Mema. “The whole point of having the location open was to increase access to testing for people who live or work in the downtown area, and make it easier for people to able to come and get tested.”

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Mema said no appointments are necessary, noting it’s on a first come, first served basis. The site’s hours of operation are from 5 p.m., to 10:30 p.m.

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“Each day, we are seeing an increasing number of people coming to get tested,” said Mema. “And that is very good news.”

Mema noted that the testing centre isn’t restricted just to people who work or live in the downtown area.

“Any resident of this area can come, on a first come, first served basis,” said Mema. “They will be tested.”

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Interior Health also has another site where people can be tested: Its urgent care centre at 1141 Harvey Avenue, though that place operates by appointment.

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“For people who want to have an appointment, they can always call the urgent care centre and get tested there,” said Mema.

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“We encourage people to (come downtown) and get tested if they have symptoms of COVID-19. However, if they don’t have symptoms but have risk factors — they’re in their 20s or 30s, teenagers, have been in gatherings, have heard that some of their friends have tested positive, perhaps in another region, another province — they are welcome to test here.”

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The site will be open during the weekend, with Mema saying how long it will stay open will depend on the demand.

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Mema said demand for testing has increased since the Canada Day long weekend, and that IH is anticipating an increase in demand as a result of the August long weekend.

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This week, Health Minister Adrian Dix praised Interior Health following the Canada Day long weekend outbreak.

The number of cases started with eight, but quickly grew to more than 100, though Dix said IH’s response to the outbreak has resulted in a recent decline.

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Mema said much of the credit belongs to local citizens.

“I think that Kelowna did a great job,” said Mema. “All the residents here, the businesses in Kelowna did an amazing job of stepping up and putting precautions in place so that we could minimize the spread of the disease.

“We have done it once; we were able to flatten the curve during the first wave. And with this cluster in Kelowna, we have seen that we have done it again. The number of cases have decreased significantly.”

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However, Mema cautioned that the public needs to stay “vigilant of any new increase that we see, and that’s why this testing and assessment site has opened.”

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