Public health: asymptomatic people can now be tested for COVID-19

Local COVID-19 testing criteria has changed several times since emergency declarations

GUELPH – It can be hard to keep up with all the recommendations around testing for COVID-19, but as it stands now, anyone can be tested, without a referral, if they think they might have been exposed to the virus.

“If you think you need to, you should go,” said Danny Williamson, spokesperson for Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH).

And anyone showing even one symptom of COVID-19 should definitely be tested, Williamson said.

This is a vast change from the early days of the pandemic, when only people who showed symptoms and who had returned from travel to affected parts of the world were allowed in to assessment centres.

Some of the changes are because more is known about the virus. Some have to do with increased capacity at assessment centres.

And because COVID-19 is now in the community, testing leads to contact tracing “and the numbers guide action,” Williamson said.

As businesses and public spaces slowly re-open, Williamson said testing and contact tracing can help public health officials to catch and contain small outbreaks before they become widespread.

“The cautious reopening depends on our ability to understand where the virus is,” he said.

“Think of infection control as an investment. We’ve invested a lot already and we don’t want to turn back.”

According to the province, testing is available for asymptomatic, risk-based people who are concerned they have been exposed to COVID-19.

This includes people who are contacts of or may have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case, as well as people who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees, food processing plants).

Symptomatic testing is for all people with at least one symptom of COVID-19, even for mild symptoms.

Those people should go to an assessment centre if they have at least one of these symptoms:

  • fever;
  • new onset of cough;
  • difficulty breathing;
  • chills;
  • fatigue, malaise, myalgia (muscle aches);
  • headache;
  • sore throat;
  • runny, stuffy or congested nose;
  • lost sense of smell or taste;
  • difficulty swallowing;
  • digestive issues (nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain);
  • for young children and infants, sluggishness or lack of appetite; or
  • multisystem inflammatory vasculitis.

Assessment centres prefer if you call ahead to make an appointment, but most will take walk-ins, Williamson said.

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Cases, testing numbers

As of May 27, there are 367 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the WDGPH region, including 241 resolved cases and 34 deaths.

In Wellington County there are 64 cases, 41 resolved cases and two deaths.

The Mount Forest assessment clinic has assessed 405 patients and tested 397 of them (as of May 25). About 1.2% of those tested were positive for COVID-19.

The totals for all three assessment centres in the WDGPH region (Guelph, Orangeville and Mount Forest) are about 10,000 assessed and 7,679 tested.