COVID testing will be available at 60 pharmacies in Ontario starting this Friday
COVID testing will officially be available at pharmacies in Ontario beginning on September 25, according to Premier Doug Ford, at 60 Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall and independent drug store locations.
"We rely on our pharmacists for our flu shots, prescriptions, and important health advice for ourselves and our families. It makes sense to engage them as key partners in delivering more COVID-19 testing," said Ford during his daily pandemic press conference on Wednesday.
"With everyone pitching in, we are well on our way to reaching our goal of 50,000 tests a day and stopping the spread of COVID-19."
The news comes not a moment too soon as people report waiting for entire days — up to seven hours in some cases — outside existing assessment centres at local hospitals to get tested for the highly-contagious virus.
Went for my covid test today in Toronto. If you plan on going I highly suggest bringing a folding chair for the 4-5 hour wait.— Sedentary Lava (@SedentaryLava) September 23, 2020
Not complaining but I am complaining. Nothing like standing in line with HUNDREDS of people who may or may not be sick.
More testing sites. Please.
A full list of participating pharmacies can be found on the provincial government's website, but prospective patients should note that tests are by appointment only.
Pharmacies will furthermore only be testing asymptomatic people for COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms of the deadly coronavirus should instead visit one of the province's 150 existing assessment centres.
Public health officials say that Ontarians should continue to follow all recommended measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a face covering, frequent handwashing, and maintaining physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.
"As part of our plan to ensure that we are ready for future waves of COVID-19, our government is working with pharmacies to help expand testing for Ontarians," said Health Minister Christine Elliott.
"With a recent increase in the number of cases, we are making sure people have more options for testing to identify cases of COVID-19 early."
Starting Friday Sept 25, up to 60 pharmacy sites will provide free testing, by appointment only, to Ontarians who do not have #COVID19 symptoms. Pharmacies will also pre-screen in advance to ensure no one is entering the store with COVID-19 symptoms.https://t.co/LtW8rbDXVN pic.twitter.com/Iv2KdlT0pS— Doug Ford (@fordnation) September 23, 2020
A release from the province states that this move is part of the government's "comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19."
Called "Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19," the plan was partially announced — but not revealed in full — on Tuesday, despite Ford previously saying that it would be.
The expansion of testing to pharmacies appears to be the second pillar in the PC government's fall COVID resurgence plan, following yesterday's announcement of the largest flu shot campaign in Canadian history.
Below are Toronto pharmacies which will start offering COVID-19 tests (by appointment only) on Friday, Sept. 25.
More locations are expected to follow in the coming weeks. You can find your closest open assessment centre right here.
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