In a time that now seems like a distant memory, a slight cough or loss of smell was not a cause for much concern. Now, having any mild symptoms of illness can cause panic, stress and anxiety, not only for fear of personal health but for fear of spreading illness to others. Testing for coronavirus is unbelievably important. It helps to identify and avoid the further transmission of the disease and treat those who are ill. Moreover, a quick test can relieve that stress and inform individuals about how to proceed with their everyday lives.
In one of Toronto’s densest and most diverse neighbourhoods, having quick and easy access to testing is critical A COVID 19 pop up testing site has opened at The Corner on the 27th of October in partnership with Sherbourne Health and Health Access. It will now be functioning every Tuesday alternating between 9am-5pm and 12 noon-8pm and has the capacity to test approximately 100 people each day. Dependent on demand, results will be available between 3 – 6 days. Operating on a drop-in basis, there is no need to call in advance to book an appointment.
As explored in other articles within this month’s newsletter, coronavirus can have numerous compounding effects on people’s mental health. Nalini Pandalangat, Director of Immigrant, Refugee and Newcomer Communities services at Sherbourne Health, explained that the new testing centre at The Corner has made a special commitment to provide “wrap-around support”. This means that if a test result does come back positive, Health Access St. James Town (a partnership involving 15 health and social service agencies) will coordinate needed supports and services to help the person through recovery. Crucially, this includes mental health support meaning that service providers can continue to touch base with individuals and assist them in any way possible.
For newcomers, Nalini describes how coronavirus has been incredibly isolating, especially for those who have come during the midst of the pandemic. She points out that gaining employment and getting to know the neighbourhood has been particularly difficult. However, Nalini is hopeful that COVID-19 has inspired and enhanced sense of community belonging. In new and creative ways, the community has supported each other through these tough times. We can all continue to support the community by taking a test if you are symptomatic and preventing the spread!