Calypso waterpark a popular destination for people seeking COVID-19 testing

LIMOGES, ONT. — The parking lot of the Calypso waterpark in Limoges, outside of Ottawa, has been converted into a temporary drive-through COVID-19 testing centre, set up to help alleviate backlogs of people looking to get tests across the capital region. 

The line-up of cars stretched for nearly one kilometre on Friday as people waited to get tested for COVID-19 in the parking lot of the popular tourist attraction.

The drive-through testing site located off Highway 417 at 2015 Calypso Street is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5p.m.

Many arrived hours before the site opened and had to wait hours more before getting a test. George Missios says it took him and his mother-in-law four hours to get tested. He was overall happy with the wait times since he expected it to be upwards of eight hours. 

The Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) is teaming up with Ontario Health East and paramedics from both Stormont Dundas and Glengary and Prescott Russell to provide the testing.

There is another site in Casselman providing hundreds of tests a day, but it was intended to be an interim solution to testing backlogs in Ottawa.

The EOHU is taking a regional approach, working with local departments to provide COVID-19 testing. The hope is to move the Casselman location to Calypso and make it a permanent facility by early October. 

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, the Medical Officer of Health for EOHU, says Calypso has a large parking lot that can provide adequate space and not overflow onto the street. He says the number of individuals coming to the pop-up testing centres over the last few weeks has far surpassed their capacity. 

Even with the added site, Calypso waterpark reached its testing capacity for the day by mid-afternoon on Friday. Those who did arrive before cut-off, waited more than five hours.

“They’re thinking they could do 1,000 (tests) a day,” says Roumeliotis. “We are getting a lot of younger kids who because any symptoms they come up with they have to stay home and either wait it out 14 days or get tested … so I think that’s causing an overload.”

Testing will be open to everyone over the age of one.

Ontario has announced new guidelines for COVID-19 testing. Testing is available to:

  • Individuals with COVID-19 symptoms
  • Individuals who have been referred by public health due to close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Residents or workers in settings that have a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by their local public health unit
  • Individuals who have been referred by a health care professional or need to get tested to meet Ministry guidelines (e.g. prior to a long-term care home visit)

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