Ontario’s Ministry of Health is helping to run “pop-up” COVID-19 assessment centres in one of the province’s hardest-hit areas.
In a news release issued Friday morning, the Scarborough Health Network said it is working in conjunction with the ministry and Toronto Public Health to operate the first of the pop-up testing centres at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, in the northeast part of the city.
Officials are encouraging anyone who thinks they may have been infected with the novel coronavirus, even if they are asymptomatic, to get tested.
The assessment centre will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET today. Two more days of pop-up testing are scheduled in Scarborough thus far, though the ministry says there will be a total of days at five different locations.
The next is scheduled for June 1 at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, while a third will be held at Global Kingdom Ministries on June 2.
North Scarborough is among the three areas of Toronto with the most COVID-19 cases, according to data released by Toronto Public Health earlier this week. Northern Etobicoke and parts of North York also have a high number of cases. All three areas are home to relatively low-income neighbourhoods with dense multi-unit residences.
News of the pop-up assessment centres comes as the province is set to reveal its revised testing strategy. Premier Doug Ford has suggested it would be released this week.
A memo circulated by the Ministry of Health last weekend suggested that it will include a directive that anyone who is concerned that they may have COVID-19 is not to be refused a test. Some infectious disease experts have been critical of the province’s messaging on testing, saying it has thus far left room for confusion about who actually qualifies for an assessment.
Public health officials are expected to hold a technical briefing for media on the new testing strategy beginning at 11:30 a.m. Ford is then scheduled to hold his daily briefing at 1 p.m. His office said Ford will be joined by Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.
Yesterday was the first time since May 17 that the province’s network of labs surpassed its own daily testing target of 16,000. Public health officials have said that ramping up testing in the general public will be essential as Ontario looks to further loosen restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The province confirmed an additional 383 cases of the illness Thursday, with the majority in the Greater Toronto Area.
The death toll from COVID-19 currently sits at 2,275, according to data compiled by CBC News.