This is how you can get tested for coronavirus in Toronto
The COVID-19 outbreak may be picking up steam in Ontario and all over the world, but public health officials continue to stress that the risk to Canadians remains low.
Still, the most important thing to do during any virus outbreak is to stay informed — and that means knowing how and when to get tested if need be.
But first, you need to know the symptoms.
According to the Ontario government's dedicated coronavirus webpage, symptoms range from mild — like the flu and other common respiratory infections — to severe and can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
Your travel history is also extremely important.
There are several places that have been identified as affected areas — including China (mainland), Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.
If you've recently travelled to any of these countries and are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you're probably looking to get tested.
How does someone test for the Coronavirus in Toronto? @GovCanHealth— Pouneh Rouhani (@Pounehr) March 2, 2020
Health officials are advising not to visit your healthcare provider before calling ahead in order to prevent spreading the virus to other patients or healthcare professionals.
Once you talk to a healthcare professional about your symptoms and travel history, they'll assess whether you meet the criteria to be tested and advise you of next steps.
Toronto is also expected to have it's very own dedicated COVID-19 screening facility up and running within the next week or so.
The Michael Garron Hospital (MGH) is set to open a COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre in mid-March in order to "to build community capacity to respond to individuals experiencing possible symptoms of coronavirus infection" and to "help maximize the availability of the emergency department for those who are most vulnerable and require acute care hospital services."
Patients who visit the clinic will be screened for travel and contact history and symptoms upon arrival, which will be through a separate entrance from the rest of the building.
Patients will then be assessed by a physician and/or nurse and tested for COVID-19 if the assessment indicates that it's necessary.
Toronto Public Health will then follow up with anyone who tests positive with results and further instructions will be provided within two days.
The coronavirus test involves taking a sample from the back of the nasal cavity with a swab.
Canadian researchers are also in the process of developing a portable "lab-in-a-box" that could eventually make it easier to test for the virus outside a healthcare facility, according to the Canadian Press.
Ontario has had a total of 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, five of which have been resolved.
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