2 Hamilton COVID-19 testing centres expand operations due to increasing demands

Hamilton Health Sciences Urgent Care Clinic at 690 Main Street West, has been closed to assist COVID-19 efforts amid a new surge in the pandemic. Global News

A pair of Hamilton’s COVID-19 testing centres are expanding operating capacity and hours amid increases in cases and a return to school next week.

Public health says both St. Joseph’s Mountain testing centre located at Mohawk College (135 Fennell Ave West) and the West End Assessment Centre at 690 Main St. West will be affected by the changes.

The Mountain test centre, currently operating 8 am to 10:30 pm Monday to Friday and 8 am to 4 pm Saturday & Sunday, will expand its on-site test capacity to 1,000 exams a day. It had been operating with a maximum capacity of 400 as of early July.

Read more: Hamilton reports new COVID-19 death, outbreak at Sizzle night club over

Meanwhile the West End Assessment Centre, which discontinued testing in July due to decreasing demand, will resume those operations seven days a week as of September 1. Operating hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an initial testing capacity of 200 eventually accommodating 500 in the near future.

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“Symptomatic testing will also continue to take place to assist vulnerable populations such as those in long-term care facilities and retirement homes, and individuals experiencing homelessness,” the city said in a release on Tuesday.

“Mobile testing teams will continue to be operated by Hamilton Paramedic Service for those who are homebound, in addition to offering mobile testing in areas with low vaccine uptake and high COVID-19 rates.”

Those looking to get asymptomatic tests for travel, and to gain entry into public events —  like pro sports and concerts — will not be permitted to receive assessments at the two locations.

Asymptomatic testing is available at local pharmacies and some city labs listed on the province’s website.

To date, public health says 370,363 of COVID-19 tests have been completed at testing and assessment centres in the city out of 792,861 total exams.

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Read more: Ontario reports 525 COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths with 3 more following data cleanup

At the peak of the pandemic, about 1,300 COVID-19 tests were performed per day at local assessment and testing centres. Over the last week, that average has been half that at about 600.

In July, the city closed the clinic at 2757 King St. East prior to ending testing at Main Street West location.

Hamilton public health reported over 200 new COVID-19 cases on the weekend with active cases surpassing the 500 mark for the first time since June 1.

Over 75 per cent of those are among people under 50 and about 45 per cent in those 29 and under.

The city still has the second largest number of tests returning positive for COVID-19 from Ontario labs according to IC/ES data taken from the week of Aug. 15.

That rate is now at 6.5 per cent which is only behind Windsor-Essex — recording 8.97 per cent a week ago.

Ontario’s test positivity for Tuesday hit 3.1 per cent.

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