COVID-19 Testing Centre Facing Surge in Demand

BRANT – Brantford’s COVID-19 Assessment Centre has been experiencing long ling-ups and wait times in recent days.

Over the past seven days, the Brantford General Hospital has had an average of 220 coronavirus lab tests ordered per day through the COVID-19 Assessment Centre. For context, the Assessment Centre had an average of 117 tests per day during the first two weeks of September. From September 17th – 20th, there was an average of 265 tests ordered each day, with the highest date reaching 291.

Dr. Elizabeth Urbantke, Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Brant County Health Unit, says the need for testing has increased over the past few days within the community. “I think we’re seeing a larger demand for testing in direct correlation to the re-opening of schools and increasing case counts in Ontario,” Urbanke says. “Provincial guidance around when a student presents with symptoms of COVID-19 is that they’re sent home and for parents to have them tested at an assessment centre. The other option is they have to isolate for 14 days or contact a healthcare provider to provide a note.”

Many Brantford and Brant residents have complained calls are going unanswered at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre. The BCHS recommends appointments are booked in advance.

“We apologize for any delays in both appointment bookings and testing,” the BCHS says in a statement provided to ROGERStv. “We are working hard to direct more resources toward reducing these wait times, including extending testing hours, adding more staff, and exploring other locations to house an additional assessment centre to respond to increased testing demands.”

Appointments at the COVID-19 Assessment Centre are made by calling 519-751-5818 between 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday to Friday. Walk-ins are accepted, but there may be a long wait time. People with appointments booked in advance are given priority and tested first. The BCHS is also developing an online self-booking system which is expected to be up and running in the next few weeks.

Over the past week, Brant has added nine new cases. There are currently 10 active cases, but no hospitalizations. Dr. Urbantke notes most of those active cases are a result of close contact. “We were able to identify the source of COVID-19,” Dr. Urbantke says. “They were split between five females and four males. The most notable thing is that five of the cases were in their 20’s and the age range of the rest of the cases were up to their 50’s.”

Dr. Urbanke adds, “I know the perception is that it doesn’t affect younger people with severe illness as it does an older age group. They still need to be doing their part to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the broader community.”

New limits imposed by the province on gatherings were added over the weekend. There is now a limit to ten people inside and 25 people outside for private gatherings.