Do's and don'ts of getting tested for COVID-19
KITCHENER -- COVID-19 testing centres around Waterloo Region and the province are being pushed to their limit as more and more people seek testing and numbers continue to rise.
Ontario reported its highest single-day increase since early May on Tuesday, a troubling trend as students adjust to a new school year.
With wait times that can be hours long, officials are asking people to follow a few guidelines around testing. Here's a list of do's and don'ts when it comes to getting tested for COVID-19.
Get tested for COVID-19 if you have symptoms or are worried you have been exposed.
Public health officials say that anyone who wants a test can get one, but recommends that only those who meet the above criteria go and get them.
"If you don't need to be seen urgently right away – if you're getting testing because it's something that you wanted to do, you're not a contact of a case, you're not doing it during an outbreak investigation, you don't have signs or symptoms of COVID-19 or from your COVID-19 Alert app, you may want to defer your visit until the lines decrease again,” Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams told reporters last week.
If you have severe symptoms, you should call 911.
Get tested to go to a party. Dr. Wang said during a media briefing on Tuesday that a negative test does not mean "you're in the clear" to party or socialize with those outside of your 10-person social circle.
Public health officials are reminding people that a 10-person social circle includes the same 10 people only – it doesn't mean that you can be with any 10 people at a time while not being socially distant.
They also ask those with symptoms who are waiting to get their test results to self-isolate until they receive their results.
Make an appointment when possible. The drive-thru testing facility on Glasgow Street in Kitchener has had to turn people away over the past couple of days due to early line-ups.
Staff at Grand River Hospital's drive-thru testing site said that people were lining up as early as 4:30 a.m. on Monday, even though the centre doesn't open until three hours later. Since school began earlier this month, the testing site's capacity has nearly doubled.
"We were seeing anywhere from 350 to 400 a day, we are now consistently seeing over 600 patients per day," said Sarah Sullivan, the testing centre's operations manager.
While the drive-thru facility doesn't offer appointments, booking one at another centre can help ensure your time slot is more consistent than the long wait times associated with the walk-in or drive-thru testing centres.
"Assessment centres continue to experience high demands for testing," Region of Waterloo Public Health said on social media. "They are asking for patience as they work to meet the demand."
There are five assessment centres in the region.
Leave or skip an appointment without cancelling it.
"If you do not need your appointment, please let us know so it may be offered to someone else," Cambridge Memorial Hospital said in a tweet on Tuesday.
"Our team is ready to help as many patients as we can with the increased demand and they continue to smile behind their masks."
Come prepared. If you have an appointment, come on time. If you're waiting in line for a walk-in appointment at one of the region's clinics, officials ask that you bring a lunch and some activities for kids, if they're waiting too.
Others waiting in line outside assessment centres have brought along folding chairs to stay comfortable in case they have a long wait in store.
Avoid getting tested just because you were turned away. Public health officials are working their hardest to ensure that anyone who wants to get tested can do so, but with more people seeking tests, there could be a delay.
Officials ask that anyone who has symptoms or fears they have been exposed to get tested, and to self-isolate until they're able to do so.