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Toronto hospital turns away coronavirus test-seekers due to overwhelming demand

Click to play video 'Ontario’s premier reacts to long COVID-19 testing wait times' Ontario’s premier reacts to long COVID-19 testing wait times
WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford has vowed there will be an announcement from his government in response to long COVID-19 testing wait times. Shallima Maharaj has the details – Sep 15, 2020

Demand for coronavirus tests has soared at an east-end Toronto hospital’s COVID-19 assessment centre.

Massive lineups have been seen outside Michael Garron Hospital on Coxwell Avenue recently. In an email to Global News, a spokesperson said the centre there is open 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Click to play video 'Long lineups at COVID-19 testing sites across Canada' Long lineups at COVID-19 testing sites across Canada
Long lineups at COVID-19 testing sites across Canada – Sep 16, 2020

Despite that, some test-seekers were turned away Monday evening due to heightened demand. In July and August, the hospital processed 300 to 400 visits a day. On Monday, there were more than 500 visits.

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According to a provincial government report on Tuesday, Ontario had 251 new cases of COVID-19. While that number represented a significant decline from the previous day, it continued the troubling trend of cases above 200.

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READ MORE: Asymptomatic people clog testing line ups in Ottawa, officials say

A bulletin on the Michael Garron Hospital website made reference to the surge in demand, and warned of longer wait times.

When Premier Doug Ford was asked about the issue on Tuesday, he said the provincial government was “on it.”

He also raised the possibility of asymptomatic people being able to access testing through their local pharmacy.

“I had a personal call with the CEO of Shoppers Drug Mart,” Ford said.

Read more: Ontario reports 251 new coronavirus cases, almost half in Toronto and Peel Region

“There are a lot of other great pharmacies out there that are willing to jump in there. We’re doing everything we can to move this forward rapidly, so just stay tuned in the next day or two and we’ll have an announcement.”

Meanwhile, the assessment centre at Michael Garron Hospital is open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Walk-ins are accepted between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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Asymptomatic patients can arrange appointments by phoning 416-469-6858.

However, a note was added to the website advising people that for the week of Sept. 14, there was an increased volume of calls so it may take longer to book an appointment.