Additional testing centres coming to Peel as COVID-19 cases rise, hospitals reach capacity
Public health interventions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Peel are ramping up. Peel’s chief medical officer of health ushered in enhanced restrictions over the weekend, followed by the provincial government’s announcement Monday that it would provide more assistance to the hard-hit region.
Additional testing and contact tracing resources will be deployed to Peel as local hospitals grapple with capacity issues and case numbers continue to surge. Hospitals operated by Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga are running near full capacity. The William Osler Health system, which operates Brampton Civic and Etobicoke General, has surpassed its capacity, forcing it to transfer patients to other facilities, according to a statement issued by the City of Mississauga on November 7. As of Monday, Trillium has 31 COVID-19 positive patients being treated at its hospitals, six are in intensive care. The Osler system has 55 COVID-19 positive patients with nine in intensive care.
“In-patient capacity … is worse than the first wave,” Dr. Naveed Mohammad, President and CEO of William Osler, told The Pointer last week. “We had [a] similar number of patients in the first wave, [they] didn’t require as much intensive care and they weren’t as sick as these patients are. We’re finding that the patients that are coming in right now happen to be much more severely ill than we noticed in the first wave. We haven’t pinpointed why that is happening.”
At capacity, Brampton Civic has been forced to transfer patients to other hospitals.
Over the last several days, between 22 and 28 percent of Ontario’s daily COVID-19 cases have been in Peel Region, with the Province reporting 258 cases on November 7; 385 cases on November 8; and 279 cases on November 9.
Brampton has accounted for the majority of the region's cases. According to Peel Public Health, Brampton recorded 203 new cases on November 6. Brampton’s COVID-19 positivity rate is at 11 percent, Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a press conference last week, more than double that of Mississauga’s 4.3 percent rate.
"Positivity rates across the Region are all above the federal limit of 3 per cent and the highest across all of Ontario," reads a press release from the City of Mississauga.
Other regional indicators also show strain across the system, according to Peel’s latest epidemiological report. Less than 60 percent of positive test results were reported to public health within one day, and only 56 percent of positive cases were contacted by public health within 24 hours, far below the target of 90 percent.
According to Health Minister Christine Elliott, Brampton's test positivity rate has increased to about 11 percent.
The three additional Brampton testing centres will begin operating out of local community centres by November 10. In a statement to The Pointer, Ontario Health said the centres were, “strategically selected with evidence-based data about locations where transmission tends to be higher.” Limited walk-in testing slots are available for those who cannot book an appointment online or by phone.
The Opposition NDP criticized the PC government for its delay in setting up further testing in Brampton and for not going far enough to address the need in the city which has become the COVID-19 hotspot of the province.
“Our community should have had these, and more, testing centres all along,” stated Sara Singh, the NDP’s Deputy Leader in a press release.
“Our community is in crisis. We need more resources, not press releases that make the government look like they’re doing more than they actually are,” added MPP Kevin Yarde (NDP-Brampton North).
Additional testing centres coming to Brampton
Greenbriar Community Centre previously opened on September 18 as a two-day pop-up testing site and extended its hours for the “foreseeable future,” Peel Public health said at the time.
The testing centre was closed just a week later, “due to the new Ministry guidance to prioritize those who are at the greatest risk, while shifting away from untargeted asymptomatic testing as Greenbriar was an asymptomatic testing centre," Peel Public Health told The Pointer on September 30.
Prior to these new sites being established, Brampton residents with COVID-19 symptoms were asked to attend South Fletcher’s Sportsplex run by the William Osler Health System, which has completed close to 78,500 swabs since it opened on June 16, until October 31. Patients with moderate flu symptoms were directed to the COVID-19, Cold and Flu Clinic at the Peel Memorial Centre for Integrated Health and Wellness, which ran about 4,800 tests in the month of October, according to Ontario Health. The agency said test figures from Brampton’s nine private pharmacies, which assess only asymptomatic patients, were not available.
Two additional centres in Mississauga, at Kingsway Paramedics Station and Four Corners Health Centre, were added as of November 4. (The Kingsway satellite testing site was previously opened for two weeks in late September.)
The Province also announced it is running mobile testing sites, including at the Peel-Dufferin Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) mobile health clinic in Brampton, to address local demands and create easy access where transit options may be a barrier for residents.
In a statement over the weekend, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the COVID-19 “picture in Peel Region has changed over the last several days.”
“To all our small business owners: I am truly sorry that you are not able to open to the degree you had anticipated,” she added.
Business owners and residents in Peel became subject to further restrictions issued on November 7 by Dr. Lawrence Loh, the Region’s Medical Officer of Health, who said that the Province’s “new framework may result in a small but material re-opening of certain high-risk businesses.” In a letter to residents outlining the added restrictions, Loh ordered all wedding receptions and gatherings to cease from November 13 to to January 7, 2021 at the earliest. Other large celebrations are also prohibited.
Gyms and fitness facilities “remain discouraged,” he said, and are asked to maintain detailed records for contact tracing.
The Province has committed another 70 case management and contact tracing staff to Peel Region, following calls from Mayor Crombie last month to allot another 50 staffers for Mississauga alone. Public health units in 10 regions less burdened by COVID-19 cases are also stepping in to assist Peel with its case investigations.
Email: [email protected]
COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.
Submit a correction about this story