One of Brampton`s hardest-hit COVID hotspots has received a lifeline — in the form of a new testing centre. The South Asian COVID Task Force announced Friday that the new centre, located at the Embassy Grand Convention Centre on The Gore Road, will help address a surge in COVID19 case numbers by offering a much-needed testing facility for residents who think they may have the virus.
The launch of the testing site was made in tandem with provincial strategies to help target high priority communities that have emerged as hotspots for the virus and will aid local health authorities by offering adding more testing capacity and access to testing. The site will be open from Tuesday-Sunday, from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., with tests that can be booked over the phone in multiple languages.
Staff will be made available onsite to help communicate with and diagnose residents. Dr. Lawrence Loh, Peel’s medical officer of health, recognized the importance of the new testing site and thanked the task force for their support.
“Peel Public Health welcomes new testing sites throughout Peel and will continue to request more,” Loh said Friday. “We are excited that this testing facility will help efforts to control transmission among the South Asian community in our region.
Our data has shown that this community has been particularly impacted by the pandemic, owing to many factors related to our community context… this centre helps reduce barriers to testing and supports our continuing efforts to engage this community in an impactful way to help save lives and stop the spread of COVID19.”
Evidence shows that newcomers, racially diverse, and low-income communities have been impacted more significantly by COVID-19 than others, and community specific supports are needed to address the complex barriers restricting their access to services.
The South Asian community makes up just a third of the population in Peel, yet they account for almost half of all new positive COVID- 19 cases reported. Many members of the South Asian community are essential workers in industries such as healthcare, food supply, transportation, manufacturing and logistics, and provide key economic services to the region and the province.
In a statement, the Task Force said they were able to leverage the support of the convention centre, which previously hosted private functions and large cultural celebrations, with a renewed purpose that would help it provide high-quality testing and communicate with residents more easily.
“(This) is a testament to the need for local advocacy and community partnerships,” a spokesperson for the task force said. “For the past two months, the SA Task Force has worked with the Local Health Integration Network, Peel Public Health, and Ontario Health, to increase testing capacity and make testing more accessible to the community.
High Priority Communities are better served when local governments, government agencies, members of the community and community leaders join forces to help identify and tackle the unique challenges and barriers of each community