Ottawa's COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre will be located at Brewer Arena (Chris Black/CTV News Ottawa)

Ottawa Public Health is urging all health care workers, grocery store employees and other essential workers who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested for the virus.

The health unit delivered the message on social media as Ontario announced the next phase of its strategy to significantly expand and enhance testing in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Are you an essential worker (person working directly with the public) who has COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing? You need to be tested for COVID-19. Learn more:

— Ottawa Public Health (@ottawahealth) April 10, 2020

Ottawa Public Health says people working directly with the public and showing symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or breathing difficulties, need to be tested at the COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena.

According to Ottawa Public Health, the following list of individuals need to be tested for COVID-19 if they are showing symptoms:

  • Essential workers (persons working directly with the public) who have COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, or difficulty breathing
  • Health care workers or a household member of a health care worker who has COVID-19 symptoms
  • Pregnant individuals who in the last three months of their pregnancy have had respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath
  • Returning travellers to Canada who have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Close contacts of a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, including if you live with or provide care for a COVID-19 case.

In a statement released late Thursday, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said “there is now more capacity to test people at the COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre at Brewer Arena.”

“The priority of the health care system is being able to test those who are most in need of testing.”

Dr. Etches does add “it is also important to remind everyone that it is still not recommended for asymptomatic people from the general public to be tested.”

There are 494 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including nine deaths. Ottawa Public Health announced 36 new cases on Friday. 

Ontario expects to double the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by April 15 and 14,000 by April 29.

On Friday, the Ontario Government insisted that anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 will now be tested for the virus.

Deputy Premier Christine Elliott told reporters “anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 can and will be tested at the recommendation of their physician or a physician at an assessment centre.”

Ontario says priority groups for COVID-19 cases include:

  • Hospital patients
  • Residents of long-term and retirement homes
  • Health care workers, caregivers, care providers, paramedics, and first responders, including police and firefighters
  • Remote, isolated, rural and Indigenous communities
  • Other congregate living centres, including homeless shelters, prisons and group homes
  • Specific vulnerable populations, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or hemodialysis and requiring transplants, as well as pregnant persons, newborns and cross-border workers
  • Other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders