COVID-19 testing to begin in Thunder Bay


In northwestern Ontario, approval has been granted for a testing facility to begin processing tests in Thunder Bay. Acting Medical Officer of Health for the Northwestern Health Unit, Dr. Ian Gemmill is hopeful that once open, the facilities will make quick work of the testing backlog for the north.

At the current time, a large portion of the lag time between a test being taken and result provided is in transit to the federal facility in Toronto, he noted.

The facility is currently being equipped with the tools and resources it needs to comply with federal testing standards.

Plans are also in the works to expand testing in the north, he said. Currently, the priority is given to residents and staff of Long Term Care homes, health care workers and first responders, to prevent the spread through institutions, like the devastating outcomes in the LTC in Bobcaygeon, Ont., where the disease has claimed the life of 28 residents in the 65 bed facility. First Nations communities are also prioritized, and administered by the First Nation and Inuit Health Branch, he said.

“We don’t want to see that happen here,” said Gemmill.

Testing criteria is a fluid thing, constantly responding to the ever-changing spread of the virus, he said, noting that there is considerable work behind the scenes to expand testing in the future.