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Watson said he’s been told by health officials that between 50 per cent and 90 per cent of people in the lines have no symptoms.
“That is putting a strain on the system,” Watson said, and he told Ford that the messaging needs to change so that people without symptoms aren’t going to testing sites.
A few hours later, however, Ford continued to encourage people who don’t have symptoms to get tested if they want to.
“We have the asymptomatic folks that may be anxious, or they want to get tested, and God bless them, get tested, but we’re going to be prepared and we’re ramping up,” Ford said during a press conference.
Much of the anger generated by the long testing lines and overrun assessment sites is rooted in confusion about how this could possibly happen when officials knew when students would be returning to classes.
Watson said Ottawa Public Health has stepped up to help, but the primary responsibility for testing is with the hospital network. The Ottawa Hospital, Queensway Carleton Hospital, Montfort Hospital and CHEO all have roles in the local testing program.
“I think they are now realizing that a lot of the testing capacity should have been dealt with a month ago with the anticipation of school,” Watson said. “To their credit now, and I’ve talked to all four hospital presidents, they understand the urgency and frustration and they have to get this problem fixed.”
The city continues to be in a state of emergency because of the pandemic, but Watson said he hasn’t asked Ford to request military assistance to help with logistical support in testing. There’s no sense bringing in military help if there are no additional sites yet to set up testing facilities, Watson said.