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Carling Heights COVID-19 assessment centre moving to online appointment-booking

The queue outside of the Carling Heights assessment centre on Sept. 23, 2020. Andrew Graham / Global News

The COVID-19 assessment centre at Carling Heights Optimist Centre will be transitioning to online appointment booking starting Sunday.

In an announcement on Thursday, officials say starting Sunday, Nov. 8, tests at the Carling location can be booked through the London COVID-19 Assessment Centres’ website, which has been offering online booking for the Oakridge Arena location since mid-October.

The first block of appointments at Carling booked via the internet will begin Tuesday, Nov. 10, officials say. The existing ticketing system, which involves people lining up at the Optimist Centre and receiving a ticket designating a block of time to return to the location for coronavirus testing, will be discontinued.

Read more: Group calls for mass COVID-19 testing at care homes with confirmed cases

Those with accessibility issues or those without internet access can book appointments over the phone by calling 519-685-8500 ext. 75503 for the Carling location or 519-667-6886 for the Oakridge location, starting at 9 a.m. weekdays.

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“Individuals will be asked to leave a voicemail with their name, phone number and reason for test. We will call them back within two business days,” officials say.

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“Phone lines will close once appointments for that day are full. We ask that the general public book their COVID-19 testing appointments online as much as possible.”

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The centres add that both will only test those who fall within provincial testing guidelines, which includes those who:

  • Show symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case as informed by the Middlesex-London Health Unit or the COVID Alert app.
  • Live or work in a setting experiencing an outbreak as identified and informed by the MLHU.
  • Have no symptoms but require a test as an essential health worker, for long-term care visits, for international travel, for a medical procedure or for cancer treatment.
  • Are eligible for testing as part of a Ministry of Health targeted testing initiative.

Read more: Coronavirus — Symptomatic Londoners urged to get tested as assessment centres see lower visitation

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Earlier this week, officials urged symptomatic residents to get tested for the coronavirus following a notable slump in visits recently to the city’s assessment centres.

On Monday, medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie pleaded for those with symptoms to get tested early, ideally within 24 to 48 hours of becoming symptomatic.

“They’ve done a tremendous job to address the wait time issues, there’s much less challenge around getting tested or waiting in line. So if you have symptoms, please go as soon as possible to Carling Heights,” he said.

Mike McMahon, executive director of the Thames Valley Family Health Team (TVFHT), which operates the centres alongside London Health Sciences Centre and in partnership with Middlesex-London Paramedic Service, said both centres are well below capacity.

“We have lots of room daily at both centres for folks to get tested.”

According to the health unit, the assessment centres at Carling Heights Optimist Centre and Oakridge Arena have together recorded a total of 2,887 client visits over the last seven days, compared to 3,017 the seven days prior, and 3,241 seven days prior to that.

— with files from Global News’ Matthew Trevithick.