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COVID-19 testing in Ontario pharmacies begins today; many not eligible

Pharmacies in Waterloo Region are among those left off the list
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Some Ontario pharmacies will begin offering COVID-19 tests today as the province tries to ease the burden on busy assessment centres.

Up to 60 pharmacies are offering the appointment-only tests to certain asymptomatic individuals, such as those with loved ones in long-term care homes, close contacts of a case or high-risk workers.

However, none of Waterloo Region's pharmacies are among those offering tests at this time.

The government announced Thursday that assessment centres will now focus on testing those with symptoms, exposed to a case, or involved in outbreak investigations.

One woman alerted to possible exposure by the COVID Alert app lined up to get a test before a Shoppers Drug Mart opened at 8 a.m. in downtown Toronto but learned she wasn't eligible.

Laura Smith says she also didn't realize pharmacy testing was by appointment only, and that she struggled to find information after getting the alert Thursday night.

Smith says she planned to head to a hospital to wait in line.

Premier Doug Ford had previously said anyone who wanted a test could get one at an assessment centre but changed that message on Thursday.

That means some people with no symptoms who want reassurance they don't have the virus will not have access to testing offered by the province.

Ford is expected to announce another part of the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan today.

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