LONDON, ONT. -- Relief from super-long lineups at London’s two COVID-19 testing centres is now at hand after they moved to a new ticketing system.

It comes after wait times inside vehicles that lasted for several hours, and endless frustrations for residents in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Valetta Street Resident Dave O’Connell who lives just a few doors down from the Oakridge centre said the system is working much better so far.

“For us it’s working fine. People aren’t parking in front of the driveways any more. It’s finished earlier, so we’re pleased.”

Here’s how it works. You still show up at the assessment centres, you get a ticket, then you return at your appointment time.

Thames Valley Family Health Team Executive Director Mike McMahon expects everyone will be happier with the new operation.

“You know it’s a time-card system, a ticket that somebody has in their hand so they no when they can come back and receive service within a reasonable period of time.”

The new system is still not without its growing pains.

Some may be surprised to learn that both the Oakridge and the Carling Heights centres are only taking 400 appointments each day at each site.

McMahon said that on Wednesday the Oakridge centre was all booked up by 11:30 in the morning, leaving those who missed out to try again another day.

“People are asking ‘well why couldn’t you put this online and I could get a ticket online,’ and I think it’s still really important for our clinical professionals to have a visit with you so we do that priority population test.”

In the Southwestern Public Health catchment areas of Oxford and Elgin Counties, long lineups have not yet been a major issue, as testing is done by appointment.

Now with demand on the rise Medical Officer of Health Dr. Joyce Lock is asking people not to go to emergency rooms.

“We do strongly discourage that. We need to keep people with respiratory symptoms out of the emergency department because very vulnerable people are there and we don’t want them getting sick with anything.”

Health officials are continuing to stress that only those who are symptomatic should seek out testing at assessment centres.