Three new pop-up testing sites to open in Ottawa

Ottawa will have three new pop-up testing centres “as of tomorrow” with locations still being finalized, MPP Lisa MacLeod announced on Twitter Thursday as demand is surging with “unacceptable” lineups at the city’s COVID-19 assessment centres.

MacLeod was at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital Thursday morning to announce $10 million in infrastructure funding for area hospitals, and told reporters she was in “active discussions” with Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches and hospital executives about extending hours at existing centres, adding mobile testing sites and exploring other options, potentially involving pharmacies.

Later in the day, MacLeod announced via Twitter: “In addition to $10.2 Million for repairs and rehabilitations for Ottawa hospitals, I can confirm Ottawa will receive three pop-up testing centres as of tomorrow (Friday). Locations are still being finalized.”

During a media briefing earlier Thursday, MacLeod thanked staff at the city’s four testing centres “who are being stretched to the limit” and said the government was looking at several options to “alleviate the pressure.”

“We in Ontario have more testing than anywhere else in the country, we are continuing to build on that capacity and we are in active discussions, making sure there are more mobile units brought to the city of Ottawa — that conversation is actually happening as we speak — so my hope is in the very near future that capacity will be expanded,” MacLeod said Thursday morning.

“We recognize that the long waits are unacceptable,” MacLeod said. “We also recognize that the assessment centre at Moodie was built for a 200-person capacity and is now accepting more than 600 visitors per day.”

Ottawa’s four COVID-19 assessment centres have been flooded in recent weeks with demand. The assessment centre at Brewer Arena recently extended operating hours to 8 p.m., but people were being turned away by mid-afternoon Thursday.

The west-end clinic on Moodie Drive reached maximum capacity shortly after 11 a.m., according to Ottawa Public Health.

MacLeod said options are being “aggressively pursued,” and said Premier Doug Ford “has been very clear he will work with anyone, perhaps pharmacies and other places (to expand testing capacity).

“As a Nepean resident — I represent the Moodie assessment centre — I want to make sure that all my constituents have access to testing when they need it, so it is a priority for the government and we are continuing to work on it, and we’ll have detailed conversations with our health partners,” MacLeod said.

Ottawa Public Health has not yet announced the locations or the operating hours of the pop-up sites.

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