Health officials in Windsor-Essex are looking to increase testing for COVID-19 after Premier Doug Ford's announcement that even asymptomatic people can get a test if they want one.
"The fact that he's basically saying that anyone that shows up to the assessment centre would be tested makes it a lot easier for the clinical staff," said David Musyj, CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital.
Previous statements from the Premier only allowed for people displaying one or more symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested. On Sunday, he said mass testing was the province's best defence against the virus. As of Saturday, the province was still nearly 5,000 tests short of its daily goal of 16,000 tests a day.
WATCH | David Musyj, President and CEO of Windsor Regional Hospital, talks about the relaxation of rules surrounding COVID-19 testing.
Musyj said until now, a little more than 90 per cent of people who would come in would get swabbed.
"Right now, they're basically saying, you come in, you're going to get swabbed, so it will be 100 per cent."
Musyj said anyone coming in to the hospital's assessment centre, which is in a white tent directly beside the Ouellette emergency department, would be swabbed and tested for COVID-19.
"It's a very quick in and out," he said, adding that anyone who wants to see a primary care physician for another medical issue would be able to do so there as well.
Having a test only means that today, on the day of testing, you are not infected. - Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health
"Instead of going to your primary care physician and or a clinic or possibly the emergency department you can get that looked at."
The assessment centre is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Musyj said they're seeing about 80 to 100 people daily, but hours could be expanded.
"We could go 24/7 if we need to," he said.
Negative test result doesn't mean you're not at risk, warns WECHU
Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), said there has been about 400 tests being conducted in the region daily between the assessment centres in Leamington and Windsor.
Allowing asymptomatic people to get tested will serve as a way of better understanding the community spread of the virus, Ahmed added. But he fears it may lure people into a false sense of security.
WATCH | Ahmed warns that increased testing is not a reason to relax when it comes to physical distancing:
"We want to make sure that if it's available, then yeah, people should go and get it," Ahmed said. "But they shouldn't go with a false expectation or a false understanding of what this test means."
He said the test doesn't differentiate whether you are at risk of contracting COVID-19 or not, adding it's a diagnostic test — not a screening tool.
"We don't want to give that message that if you come back negative, you are not at risk ... Having a test only means that today, on the day of testing, you are not infected."
At Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, the hospital will discuss the possibility of offering testing for its staff, physicians and patients onsite, according to president and CEO Janice Kaffer.
Up until now, those who were tested at the hospital had to have symptoms and any staff who wanted to or needed testing had to go to an assessment centre.