The number of people getting tested for COVID-19 at London’s COVID-19 assessment centre rose by just over five per cent from August to September, but the number of kids getting tested jumped by nearly 50 per cent, new numbers show.
In August, about 30 per cent of those getting tested at the Carling Assessment Centre were people under 18. In September, that number jumped to 41.5 per cent of all those getting swabbed.
“The testing volume increase among children was completely expected and it’s not a sign of parents being concerned, it’s a sign of school policies coming into play,” said Dr. Chris Mackie, the Middlesex-London Health Unit’s medical officer of health.
“When children have symptoms, the school policies require that testing, or isolation at home for the seven day period.”
Jump in tests, not jump in cases
The London Health Sciences Centre, which manages the Carling Heights Assessment Centre, gave CBC News the following numbers:
Last year, the return to school saw a vast increase in the number of parents seeking tests for their kids and created long lines and bottlenecks that have not materialized this September.
The hospital which runs the testing centre has increased the number of same-day appointments to deal with the expected influx of people wanting tests, said Carol Young-Ritchie, a vice-president with the London Health Sciences Centre.
“Currently, we have capacity for 600 to 800 tests per day, and that’s based on our staffing levels,” she said. “We have also made a change and we’ve allocated 250 — instead of 150 — same-day daily appointments, to hopefully get people through a little bit quicker.”
What’s been surprising is that despite the significant increase in the number of tests being done, there has not been a significant increase in the number of cases among young people, Mackie said.
“The cases among children have been relatively high, especially the unvaccinated under (age) 12, but they didn’t really increase with the start of school. They’ve been high and relatively flat over that period, so that was surprising,” he said.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is asked to go to the COVID-19 assessment centre. Those who wish to get tested but don’t have symptoms can buy a rapid test at a local pharmacy. For more on testing in Middlesex-London, visit the MLHU website.