The University of Ottawa is opening a COVID-19 assessment centre on campus for students, professors and staff — the first of its kind at an Ontario university, according to administrators.
The centre will be run in collaboration with The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) and Ottawa Public Health, and will be overseen by a TOH physician.
The university expects the site to open in early September, just in time for students returning for the fall semester. The university said it's expecting to welcome back about 5,000 students whose course require in-person instruction,as well as two-thirds of its researchers, and a small number of faculty and other staff.
Detecting asymptomatic cases
Dr. Hugues Loemba, a virologist and associate professor with the university's department of medicine, applauded the on-campus centre.
"That will help to kind of find new cases of COVID-19 that could be spreading the disease," he said. "Specifically for those who have no symptoms who ... could go to classes and spread the disease in the university community."
Loemba believes everyone should be tested before returning to campus, and he cautions a negative test doesn't necessarily mean a person is free of COVID-19.
"You could have been tested at a time when the virus was not enough in your body," he said. "Because it takes a few days when you get exposed to this virus."
Loemba said it will be important for test results to be returned in a timely fashion, within 24 to 48 hours.
U of O student Nicole Branchaud said she would go to the campus testing site if she thought she had COVID-19.
"It's good that it's accessible for students," she said.
The assessment centre will be located within Block D at 200 Lees Ave. Anyone requiring a test at the facility will need to book an appointment. The university said testing will be limited to 50 people for the first few weeks.
Weekly site at UQO
In Gatineau, the Université du Québec en Outaouais will have a weekly COVID-19 testing centre for students.
UQO president Murielle Laberge said the main goal of the site is to help prevent the spread of the illness by young people who are asymptomatic.
Anyone wanting a test at the UQO site must also book an appointment.