Fewer tests aren't behind declining case counts, says Windsor-Essex top doc

·2 min read

Though testing numbers are down in Windsor-Essex, the region's medical officer of health says that isn't why cases are declining.

In the last 10 days, local COVID-19 cases have been steadily declining, with only 20 new cases reported Thursday. Medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said during the health unit's COVID-19 briefing that WECHU officials are keeping a close eye on the number of tests each week and have seen a decline — but he doesn't think this is causing the low case count.

Since late December and into January, Ahmed says they've been completing roughly 11,000 tests a week. Last week, this number decreased by 1,000.

"I don't think that the number we are seeing right now is a reflection of people just not going to [get] tested because we're also noticing a decline in the person positivity of the test as well, so we have to take a look at those," he said.

Ahmed added that as community cases and active cases go down, there's less of a need for people to get tested.

On Jan. 22, Ahmed reported that tests had a 8.7 per cent positivity rate, a significant decline from 11.7 per cent the week before. On Jan. 29, Ahmed reported that tests were showing 9.3 per cent positivity.

Due to decreased demand, COVID-19 assessment centres at Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) and Erie Shores Healthcare have reduced their hours of operation.

On Jan. 28, WRH said its Met Campus COVID-19 Assessment Centre hours will only be open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Previously, it was operating every day for 11 hours.

The hospital's Ouellette Campus Assessment Centre hours remain unchanged, with it being open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

But if demand for testing picks up again, the hospital said it would adjust its hours.

The hospital said its busiest day for testing in the new year was Jan. 11, with 631 individuals getting swabbed. Since then, they've done less than 400 tests every day.

The hospital attributes this decline to the lockdown measures "reducing viral transmission."

Meanwhile, Erie Shores reduced its assessment centre hours this week. Starting Wednesday, people could access the centre from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, where before it was open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

But it says that the first half hour of each day, from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., are for the hospital's pre-surgical patients.