New COVID-19 testing centre opens at Edmonton Expo Centre

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Another COVID-19 testing site opened Wednesday in Edmonton. As Kendra Slugoski explains, the EXPO Centre site has the capacity to collect 5,000 swabs per day, but Dr. Deena Hinshaw says there are delays in getting back results – Sep 9, 2020

A new COVID-19 testing centre opened in Edmonton on Wednesday morning.

The Central Assessment Centre is located in Hall A of the Edmonton Expo Centre. Alberta Health Services said the centre is the largest in Edmonton and capable of completing approximately 5,000 swabs per day.

Read more: Alberta doctors concerned with high demand for COVID-19 testing, province’s preparedness for testing in fall

The new location is available for coronavirus testing by appointment only. Walks-in will not be accepted. Appointments for both symptomatic and asymptomatic Albertans can be booked at the Expo Centre.

AHS said it is opening the new site to keep up with the demand for testing.

AHS said it has added additional staff to many of its assessment centres, as well as to contract-tracing teams and within provincial labs.

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As of Aug. 27, AHS said it had 683 staff trained on the contract-tracing team, which is made up of full-time, part-time, redeployed and casual staff.

AHS said the average turnaround time for symptomatic people to receive their test results is 24 to 48 hours. For asymptomatic people, results are coming back between five to seven days after swabbing, AHS said in a statement Wednesday.

“Those timelines can vary,” AHS said. “Again, we are working on new processes and supports to shorten those timeframes.”

Read more: ‘Not going to micromanage our way out’: Kenney shuts down idea of more COVID-19 restrictions in Alberta

The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, addressed the backlog during her update on COVID-19 Wednesday afternoon.

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“The delay time between when a sample is taken and when a patient is notified is something that we are working very hard to shrink to make sure that people do get their test results in a more timely way,” she said.

She reiterated that staff members have been added throughout all stages of the testing process — from those who take the samples and process the data, to those who then ensure people get their results and those who conduct contact tracing.

“Right now, there is a delay and that delay is concerning. And again, there’s a lot of work to shrink that as quickly as possible on all of those different pieces,” Hinshaw said.

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“Unfortunately, I don’t have a firm deadline for when that turnaround time will be reduced. But many, many measures are underway to make sure that it’s shortened as quickly as possible.”

News of the additional testing site came Tuesday afternoon, as Alberta recorded 619 new cases of COVID-19 over the previous four days. On Tuesday, Hinshaw also reported that five more people have died from COVID-19 over the past four days. It total, 247 Albertans have died of COVID-19.

The total number of active cases of COVID-19 sat at 1,692 on Tuesday. This is the highest number of active cases the province has seen since May 9, Hinshaw said.

Read more: Alberta COVID-19 cases rise to May levels; Hinshaw says ‘absolutely critical’ to stay home if sick

In the Edmonton zone, there were 648 active cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Alberta COVID-19 cases rise to May levels; Hinshaw says ‘absolutely critical’ to stay home if sick' Alberta COVID-19 cases rise to May levels; Hinshaw says ‘absolutely critical’ to stay home if sick
Alberta COVID-19 cases rise to May levels; Hinshaw says ‘absolutely critical’ to stay home if sick – Sep 8, 2020

The entire city of Edmonton was placed back on the province’s “watch list” on Tuesday afternoon. Regions with at least 10 active cases and a rate of over 50 active cases per 100,000 population are moved into the watch category.

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In addition, eight individual Edmonton neighbourhoods were on the watch list as of Tuesday afternoon:

  • Edmonton – Castle Downs
  • Edmonton – Duggan
  • Edmonton – Eastwood
  • Edmonton – Mill Woods West
  • Edmonton – Ne
  • Edmonton – Northgate
  • Edmonton – Rutherford
  • Edmonton – Woodcroft East

There are two other testing sites in the Edmonton area, including the South Assessment Centre which is open seven days a week for people with appointments and walk-ins. The other location is the East Assessment Centre in Sherwood Park, which is a drive-thru site that is open five days a week.

AHS said the two existing sites are able to accommodate more than 3,000 swabs per day.

Testing will tell you whether you had COVID-19 at the time your swab was taken, it will not tell you whether you have previously had the disease.

The Edmonton Expo Centre was used as a drop-in day shelter for several months during the height of the pandemic. It closed on July 31.

Read more: Edmonton Expo Centre to close as drop-in day shelter July 31

To book an appointment for a coronavirus test, visit Alberta Health Service’s website.

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