Present for COVID-19 testing if you have any symptoms: Dr. Etches

Ottawa’s medical officer of health says Ottawa residents have a “responsibility” to be tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19.

In addition, Ottawa Public Health is holding discussions with stakeholders on possibly expanding testing for COVID-19 to asymptomatic residents during the pandemic.

Dr. Vera Etches is urging everyone with symptoms of novel coronavirus to present for testing at the Brewer Arena Assessment Centre or the two community care clinics in Ottawa.

“It’s now your responsibility if you have symptoms to also present for testing so that we can rule out COVID-19,” said Dr. Etches during a media conference on Friday afternoon.

Dr. Etches notes in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic the message was it was your responsibility to stay home if you are sick, but the testing criteria has changed.

Earlier this month, Ottawa Public Health expanded the testing criteria for COVID-19 to anyone with symptoms of the virus.

Dr. Etches told reporters that the “testing strategy continues to evolve” in Ottawa and Ontario.

“Testing to detect COVID-19 infections in our community is one of the other efforts that will help us keep this virus pinned down as we begin to reopen,” said the medical officer of health.

“I’d like to remind everyone that testing is now available to anybody in the community - any age, mild symptoms or not, severe symptoms, a cough, a sore throat, a fever. These are signs that we’d like you to present for an evaluation and COVID-19 testing.”

Dr. Etches says being tested helps Ottawa Public Health find “every case we can to stop transmission of COVID-19” in the community and investigate possible transmission sources.

Laboratories have the capacity to accommodate testing residents with COVID-19 symptoms.

Testing for Asymptomatic

“Currently discussions are underway about in what situation it makes sense to test people who are asymptomatic,” said Dr. Etches.

“We currently test people who are asymptomatic in situations of outbreaks, in congregate care settings.”

Dr. Etches adds while Ottawa’s laboratory capacity has expanded, “we do still not have the capacity to test everybody in Ottawa.”

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit plans to start random COVID-19 testing of residents in the community next week. 

On Wednesday, Ontario completed 11,272 COVID-19 tests. To date, Ontario has completed 588,958 tests.

Premier Doug Ford warned health officials on Thursday that he will “be like an 800-pound gorilla on their backs” if testing numbers continue to fall below what is expected.”


Ottawa Public Health says these are some of the symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sore throat
  • Diifficulty swallowing
  • Loss of taste/smell
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion

Less common symptoms

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Delirium
  • Unexplained falls
  • Acute functional decline
  • Worsening of chronic conditions
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Croup
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Loss of taste/smell