Mobile COVID-19 testing clinics still operating in Toronto hot spots

A small fleet of mobile COVID-19 testing clinics continues to target hot spot neighbourhoods in Toronto, helping officials track the spread of the virus as vaccination efforts ramp up.

Toronto paramedics brought two mobile clinics to the Flemingdon Park neighbourhood on Thursday--an area with a positivity rate of 10.87 per cent as of May 1.

Data provided by Toronto Public Health from April 22 to May 12 also shows 657 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the area.

"COVID-19 is active and we need to protect people who are being tested and to see where it is spreading and to provide the support they need," said Jennifer Rajasekar, a support worker with the community agency The Neighbourhood Organization. "Most of our community members are front line workers in the hospitals, the grocery stores - this for people who cannot travel, don't have transportation."

The agency has partnered with Toronto paramedics to organize and operate the mobile testing clinics, as often as twice a month.

Decommissioned TTC buses have been retrofitted for the mobile clinics and paramedics oversee the testing. Officials say they can administer up 100 tests per shift.

"There isn't a swabbing site close as in other areas, its helps to provide access to testing," said primary care paramedic Katherine Adamko.

Since the city launched the program in December, paramedics have administered 10,000 Covid-19 tests in hot spot communities.

Even as the province has ramped up vaccination efforts in hot spots and the age eligibility has been lowered to 40 and older to book vaccine appointments through the provincial portal, health experts say continuing mobile testing remains critical to slow the spread of the virus.

"With 50 per cent of adults being vaccinated...50 per cent of adults are still susceptible, you really can't do this without contact tracing and testing," said infectious disease specialist Dr. Zain Chagla. "Testing gets people isolated reduces transmission, reduces the spread to vulnerable populations."

Chagla says the mobile testing by paramedics is paramount and believes it should continue into late fall. "in terms of making sure those populations still have coverage."

Toronto Paramedic Services tell CTV News the mobile testing clinics will continue in hot spots across the city as long as needed.