ontario covid test

COVID-19 testing centres in Ontario are moving to appointment-based only

Next week, residents hoping to get tested for COVID-19 will no longer have to worry about waiting in an immeasurable snaking lineup outside their local hospital for hours, because the province is switching to appointment-based testing only.

Premier Doug Ford announced the switch at his presser on Friday, among news of other big changes in the province as case numbers increase and we progress through a second wave of the health crisis.

"As the weather continues to worsen, we can't have people waiting in the cold, rain and snow to get a test," Ford told reporters this afternoon.

So, starting Oct. 4, assessment centres provincewide — including the 60 pharmacies that recently started offering the service by appointment — will begin winterizing operations, and will phase out walk-in appointments.

As of Tuesday Oct. 6, people will be able to book their test at any location in Ontario online.

This will allow citizens a level of certainty that they will indeed receive a test, Ford said, while the changeover will give centres more time to conduct deep cleans, and will permit labs a bit more leeway to get through the immense backlog of 90,513 results waiting to be processed and sent out.

Screening before appointments will hopefully also help to ensure that testing slots only go those who are symptomatic or have been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, as officials have blamed long testing lines in part on people simply seeking peace of mind that they don't have the deadly virus.

Ford added that the province is going to try, of course, and make the conversion to appointment-only testing as quick as possible, but that there may be a day or two of delay in booking a slot in the beginning.

Those hospitals already operating on the appointment-only model will carry on with business as usual, and will proceed with all existing scheduled appointments.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez


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