New COVID-19 testing units rolling out across Montreal

Municipal authorities are hoping that rolling test clinics traveling neighbourhood to neighbourhood will help them get a better picture of COVID-19 cases across Montreal.

City buses outfitted to become mobile testing units will begin welcoming Montrealers Wednesday, starting in Verdun.

On Tuesday, wearing a mask, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante toured one of the buses, where two compartments have been created inside to allow health professionals to administer the tests. 

“Now we’re just more mobile…we can go to the people that maybe have more difficulty accessing those testing units,” said Plante.

Testing has ramped up dramatically in Montreal over the last week.

This is also the first time in weeks that tests have been available to the public at large. Since March, the tests have been mostly limited to a select group of people, including certain healthcare workers and people in long-term care homes.

Last week, tests were made available to people only in Montreal North who showed symptoms, since the neighbourhood had become a hot spot. A regular, non-mobile testing clinic is available in Montreal North. 

Shortly after, the city widened access to all Montrealers who are showing COVID symptoms, and now they’re using the buses to reach into every part of the city.

In Montreal North, “our hypothesis is that probably we have healthcare workers and other essential workers that have contracted the virus and brought the virus to their families, and maybe [have] community transmission,” said Mylène Drouin, “and this is what we’re going to try to find out in the next week.”

Each mobile clinic can test up to 225 people per day. Right now, 4,000 to 5,000 people are being tested per day, and Drouin said she hopes that can be increased by at least 2,000 or 3,000 per day.

“But we’ll see how the population reacts,” she said.

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