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Hamilton limits walk-ins and launches online booking as COVID-19 overwhelms Public Health

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Hamilton limits walk-ins and launches online booking as COVID-19 overwhelms Public Health

People looking to walk into a Hamilton COVID-19 testing centre and get assessed may be turned away and asked to book online as the system continues to be overwhelmed.

The City of Hamilton announced the launch of an online booking system Thursday (Sept. 24).

Residents can now book their appointment at www.HamiltonCovidTest.ca.

The number of walk-ins accepted at assessment centres will be limited, however.

“To support this move to online booking and prioritizing patients at greatest risk… residents who come to a testing centre without an appointment may be asked to book one online,” said the city in an official media release.

“Over the past several weeks, Hamilton assessment and testing centres and the Public Health Services phone lines have experienced a surge in demand for COVID-19 tests, resulting in the need for an online booking tool,” said the city in an official release.

The City of Hamilton says the move to online booking will increase residents’ ability to book appointments “faster and at their own convenience.”

The online booking system is also expected to help prioritize appointments for those at greatest risk, symptomatic individuals, and close contacts of confirmed cases.

The Public Health Services COVID-19 booking line will remain available for those who do not have internet access and those who have accessibility needs at 905-974-9848.

“These changes will require patience from everyone during the transition to the new system of booking appointments, recognizing that demand for testing remains extremely high in Hamilton,” added the City of Hamilton.

“The community partnership of physicians, hospitals, Hamilton Paramedic Service, Good Shepherd Services and Public Health is continuing to refine this process to meet the needs of our community to ensure those at greatest risk are tested quickly.”

Hamilton Public Health says they have nearly doubled their call volumes in recent weeks, now averaging 2,000 calls daily, exceeding capacity.

The Government of Ontario announced this week that beginning Friday (Sept. 25), Queen’s Park is rolling out an expanded COVID-19 testing program to select pharmacies across the province.

Up to 60 pharmacies will offer free testing by appointment only, according to the province.

No pharmacies in Hamilton will take part in the initial phase, however, more locations are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Ontario has seen a significant uptick in cases this month. The total confirmed COVID-19 cases amount to 48,087, including 2,835 deaths, and 41,600 resolved.

The total cases in Hamilton are 1,056, while 45 people have reportedly died of COVID-19.

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