MIDDLESEX CENTRE, ONT. -- Starting Monday, there will be a new system in place for COVID-19 testing, with one site handling all walk-ins and the other moving to appointments only.

All walk-in COVID-19 testing  will be done at the Carling Heights Optimist Community Centre on Elizabeth Street starting Oct. 5.

The hours will be extended, with the centre operating from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. The time card system will continue to be used.

Patients with COVID-19 symptoms, who have been notified of exposure, live/work where an outbreak has been identified or ar eligible for testing as part of a provincial initiative, will be prioritized.

At the Oakridge Arena on Valetta Street, tests will be by appointment only, and hours of operation will continue to be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

People can make an appointment by calling 519-667-6886 and leaving their name, call-back number and reason for the test. A response can be expected within two business days.

The patients prioritized will include symptomatic children ages 12 and under, symptomatic essential health care workers and asymptomatic individuals who are:

  • residents, workers, visitors or caregivers to a retirement home or long-term care facility
  • international students who have passed their 14-day quarantine period
  • farm workers
  • Indigenous communities
  • other setting specific populations as defined by the Chief Medical Officer of Health (example: pre-operative or pre-chemo)

Mike McMahon, executive director of the Thames Valley Family Health, said in a statement the changes will allow for more tests, but they realize even more are needed.

“We will continue to work with our partners to look for ways to streamline our testing capacity. We would also like to thank our neighbours at Carling and Oakridge Assessment Centres for their patience and support over the last six months.”

Middlesex-London Health Unit Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie added, “The changes they are bringing to the Assessment Centre process provide clear guidance that will allow local residents to decide for themselves when and where to get tested; aligning their specific situation to the location and level of service that best meets their needs.”

To date, the two assessment centres have seen more than 79,000 patients and done more than 73,000 tests.

London-area residents also have the option of visiting pharmacies in the region that are offering tests or visiting the Middlesex-London Paramedic Service's mobile testing centre.