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COVID-19 testing numbers down in Peterborough-area

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One-in-five Peterborough-area residents have been tested for COVID-19 since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. And as Mark Giunta reports, testing numbers are starting to drop – Oct 29, 2020

The Ontario government said Thursday it had processed more than 35,000 COVID-19 tests over the previous 24 hours — a far cry from Premier Doug Ford’s goal of 50,000 per day.

In the Peterborough-area, the medical officer of health says roughly one-in-five people, or nearly 34,000, have been tested at least once during the course of the pandemic here.

“I know with the paramedic’s moving indoors (at Northcrest Arena). I know they’ve limited their numbers to six every 15 minutes,” said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra. “Those appointments are filling up every day.”

READ MORE: Peterborough’s COVID-19 testing clinic relocates to Northcrest Arena

The drive-thru testing site at Eastgate Park relocated to Northcrest Arena on Monday.

The appointment-only model allows for up to 180 people to be screened weekdays from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at six testing stations within the arena.

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In a text message with Global News Peterborough on Thursday, Peterborough Paramedics superintendent Craig Jones said nearly all appointments have been booked each day.

But he also said there have been several no shows and that people should cancel online as someone else could use that timeslot.

Coronavirus testing is available at Northcrest if you:

  • have symptoms of COVID-19
  • have been advised by public health that you should be tested because you were in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • have received exposure notification through the COVID-19 Alert app
  • have been advised by a medical professional that testing is required prior to a procedure
  • are required to be tested routinely, such as staff at long-term care homes or retirement homes
  • are planning to visit a loved one indoors at a long-term care home
  • are a student or staff member at a school who had symptoms and require a test to return to school
  • are a traveller without symptoms and require a test to confirm that you do not have COVID-19 before travelling internationally

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Appointments can be booked on the health unit and hospital websites.

The difference now is that anyone, symptomatic or asymptomatic, could have been tested at Eastgate where paramedics would administer more than 500 tests per day in late September.

The appointment-only model, which was implemented in early October at Eastgate, saw that number cut in half to about 240.

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“The numbers are lower than that big crush in September. That’s because we were testing asymptomatic people in September — anyone could be tested, whether you had a symptom or you were a close contact,” Dr. Salvaterra added.

“We’ve shifted the focus of testing to be more strategic to use it primarily for those who are symptomatic or who have been referred because of close contacts.”

READ MORE: COVID-19: Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit surveys impacts of pandemic

Dr. Salvaterra said there is still capacity for asymptomatic testing at Shoppers Drug Mart, where there are up to 40 available appointment slots per day.

“So the numbers aren’t as high. I’m glad they aren’t as they were in September. It’s more important that those who need testing, get it same day. The sooner we get test results back, we can ensure they are self-isolating and we can contact their close contacts,” she said.

“I think we’re doing a good job here with testing.”

Salvaterra said those without symptoms or risk factors should not go for testing right now.

Those without symptoms, who meet one of the following criteria, can be tested by appointment only at Shoppers Drug Mart at Lansdowne and High Streets in Peterborough:

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  • residents or workers in a long-term care home
  • visitors to a long-term care home
  • residents or workers in a homeless shelter
  • international students who have passed their 14-day quarantine period
  • farm workers
  • individuals who require a COVID-19 test for international travel clearance
  • self-identified Indigenous
  • a resident or worker in other congregate living settings and institutions

To book an appointment at Shoppers Drug Mart you can call 705-748-6141 or email asdm614@shoppersdrugmart.ca.

On Monday, pharmacy owner Mohan Joshi told Global News Peterborough that it has been very busy at Shoppers and that appointments were filling up more than 48 hours in advance.

Joshi said the pharmacy may expand its testing to weekends as well.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Port Hope Community Hub in Canton to be third testing site in Northumberland County

Meanwhile symptomatic residents can also go to Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) to be tested at the assessment centre there.

It’s open seven days a week.

In an email Monday, hospital spokesperson Michelene Ough said between Aug. 31 and Oct. 5, the assessment centre had an average of 66 appointments daily.

That number has dropped to about 50 appointments per day since Oct. 5.

“Over the last eight weeks, PRHC’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre saw its highest patient volumes on Oct. 2; on that date, we had 102 appointments for assessment/testing,” Ough said.

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If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the emergency department.

The phone number for the PRHC COVID-19 assessment centre is 705-876-5086.

As for the paramedics at Northcrest, Dr. Salvaterra said Peterborough Public Health can move them around to other locations if there’s suddenly a need for more testing.

She also told reporters on Wednesday that should an outbreak occur at in Peterborough County, paramedics could be dispatched to set up a mobile site in the more remote and rural areas of the county.