There’s a new online tool to connect people who believe they may have COVID-19 with doctors.
It’s run through the Region of Waterloo Public Health’s website and replaces a similar tool from the province.
Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang, the acting medical officer of health for the region, said the new tool asks the same questions, but has the added benefit of allowing a person who has symptoms of the novel coronavius to talk to a local on-call doctor.
It could even be their own doctor, if their family physician is taking part.
“The process is quick, clear and straightforward. If a medical assessment is recommended, you can book a virtual appointment with a doctor,” Wang said. “After the virtual appointment, you may be referred to an assessment centre.”
Wang says it’s also good for people who don’t have a family doctor or are having trouble reaching their doctor during the pandemic.
“The tool also allows for further follow-up with patients who are self-monitoring their symptoms at home,” Wang said.
The tool was created by the Ontario Health West Region using the province’s guidelines.
Testing to be expanded
Wang said in the coming weeks, the tool will come in handy as the plan is to expand testing to the general public.
The region is currently testing every person living in a long-term care or retirement home. Once that work is wrapped up, Wang said it’s hoped more testing of people who don’t currently qualify for testing will begin.
Wang said just how much testing will be done will be based on lab capacity.
The region has experienced shortages of swabs in the past and difficulties with sending tests on weekends due to issues with couriers.
“We have continued to increase testing over time according to the priority groups and hope to open up testing … to the general public soon,” Wang said. She did not provide a date.
“We definitely, just as much as everyone else, would like to have testing opened, but we need to do it in a manner that’s responsible and ensures that the lab system that’s being built as we speak is able to handle the volume so we don’t have the issues we’ve encountered to date.”