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COVID-19 Assessment Clinic sees spike in visits after premier encourages more testing

The number of people seeking tests on the weekend increased fourfold over the normal average, says Guelph Family Health Team executive director
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Guelph's COVID Assessment Clinic located at the Victoria Road Recreation Centre. GuelphToday file photo

Guelph’s COVID-19 Assessment Clinic saw a spike of four times the usual number of people seeking testing for the virus lalst weekend following new rules about who can receive testing.

Those new rules include people concerned they may have been exposed.

Last week, premier Doug Ford encouraged Ontarians who are concerned about COVID-19 to get tested. 

Judging by the number of people who arrived at the local COVID-19 Assessment Clinic on Victoria Road, Guelphites took that advice to heart, said Ross Kirkconnell, executive director of the Guelph Family Health Team, which operates the clinic in cooperation with Guelph General Hospital.

That increase in the number of people looking to be tested didn’t come without its challenges.

“This is a good news story, in that we are getting a lot of people at the clinic, but we are adapting to different volumes,” said Kirkconnell. “When we were going from 75 a day to 250 a day we just had some things to figure out.”

Kirkconnell said in the past there has been issues with the number of tests on hand and some people with symptoms earlier in the pandemic were not tested and asked to go home and self isolate. He said the conditions under which people will now be tested has changed.

“Everyone in the system has learned a lot about COVID since we started this journey and we had changing availability of tests and PPE and all of the other pieces as well,” said Kirkconnell. 

So far, the Guelph COVID-19 Assessment Clinic is well stocked with test kits, even with an increase in people receiving the, said Kirkconnell.

“In the early days we said if you have a symptom just stay home and we do want people to stay home, but if you might have COVID let’s know that you do so we can know you are not going to the supermarket. We know you are not going to talk too closely to your neighbour, etcetera,” said Kirkconnell. “What the most important thing is the messaging of if you have a symptom, or feel like you have had exposure to symptoms you should get tested.”

Kirkconnell welcomes the expansion to risk-based testing of asymptomatic people concerned they may have been exposed to the virus in an effort to combat the spread.

“I feel quite good that is a really solid message for people to consider when looking at their own health,” said Kirkconnell. “Do they have any symptoms that are COVID-like? Get tested. Do they think they have been exposed to somebody who might have had COVID? Get tested.”

Testing is continuing for people who have symptoms, which can include: fever, new onset of cough, difficulty breathing, chills, headache, sore throat and others, which can be found here

“The scenario that we all wonder about is someone in the home who has a symptom and two others live in the same home. Let’s get them checked out too because we certainly don’t want people carrying it and spreading it unbeknownst to them,” he added.

Kirkconnell said Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health is taking the lead on contact tracing, trying to link confirmed cases with the person or place the virus may have been picked up and people or places that may now be infected.

“They are really looking at who they have been in touch with, where they have been, who they have talked to and encouraging anyone they are connected with to get tested,” he said.

The COVID-19 Assessment Clinic in Guelph is operated out of the Victoria Road Recreation Centre at 151 Victoria Rd. N. and is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

A COVD-19 Assessment Clinic in Mount Forest is open at the Mount Forest Sportsplex, 850 Princess St. It is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday to Friday only.