EOHU: Changes to COVID-19 testing

CORNWALL –The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region has continued to increase. Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, medical officer of health for the EOHU updated the public on the latest COVID-19 numbers during his Thursday afternoon local media availability.

As of September 24th, there are 39 active cases in the region; three of those cases are located in South Dundas, one in North Dundas, and a new case identified in South Stormont.

Roumeliotis said that the results coincide with Labour Day activities, the traditional end of summer.

“I am hoping it is a blip and we can go downwards,” he said with regards to the increased positive cases.

Responding to a new directive from the provincial government, limiting COVID-19 testing for now to those who are symptomatic, or have been directed to take a test by a medical official, Roumeliotis said it was about priorities.

“What we wanted to do was prioritize people who have symptoms,” he said. “This is one of the ways of stemming off the increased demand.”

Demand for testing has seen a number of COVID-19 testing centres across Eastern Ontario reach capacity. A new drive-thru testing centre is slated to open in the parking lot of the Calypso Water Park near Casselman.

The province also announced that select pharmacies will be able to provide appointment-based COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people beginning Friday. The 60 pharmacies in the initial roll-out of the plan are in the Toronto, Ottawa, and Muskoka regions. There were no pharmacies selected to do asymptomatic testing in SDG Counties, Cornwall, or Prescott-Russell.

“The ministry has said it will be coming to the area,” Roumeliotis said. “It’s just a matter of time before there are pharmacies doing asymptomatic testing here.”

Flu vaccine coming mid-October

Roumeliotis said that supplies of the flu vaccine is on its way and aiming for mid-October to begin administering.

The province announced on September 23rd that it is starting its largest-ever vaccination campaign for the flu. Government officials are worried about hospital capacity issues if they are dealing with both a second wave of COVID-19 concurrently with dealing with cases of the flu.

Roumeliotis said the health unit will not be running large-scale flu vaccine clinics as it did years ago, now that pharmacies are able to provide those services.


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