The new online booking system for COVID-19 drive-thru testing at Eastgate Memorial Park is going well, a Peterborough Paramedics official said.

Friday was the first day of the appointment-only system and everything seems to be going wonderfully, said Craig Jones, superintendent of community programs with Peterborough Paramedics.

“Everything seems to be going very well with those who were able to get online and book,” Jones said.

“We have had a few people show up who didn’t realize the new system was in place and we have had to turn them away. But we are providing an educational piece, a handout, so they will be able to access the online booking service and make an appointment.”

Some who made appointments have not shown up for their scheduled appointment time, he said, but it will not disrupt services provided by paramedics for people who want to get tested.

“If there is one or two people that don’t show up it is not going to affect the operation,” he said. “The operation will continue, the paramedics there may just have some down time and when I mean a little bit, I mean a minute or two.”

By Friday afternoon all appointments for Friday were booked. People can start booking Sunday for Monday testing times.

Because it’s a new way of operating the service, they were taking it slow with the numbers they started off with on Friday, Jones said.

“Right now, because this was new, we wanted to start off at a comfortable range,” he said. “We are doing 15 appointments every half hour, so 30 in an hour, we are going to re-evaluate every three to four days to see if we need to increase that.”

Compared to how long people were waiting before, the new system is keeping wait times down to about 15 minutes.

“People were waiting as long as three and four hours to actually get swabbed,” Jones said. “Now, it is much more efficient with peoples time. They are maybe waiting 10 to 15 minutes to get swabbed.”

Under directions from Peterborough Public Health, the testing is far more focused, it is not just for people who might have COVID-19.

“It is people who have loved ones in long-term care homes they need to go visit, if people need to travel within the next 72 hours or a person who is immunocompromised that has been exposed and advised by Peterborough Public Health to get tested,” Jones said.

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“There is a whole list on the website of criteria people need to consider before saying ‘yes I want to be tested.’”

To book times for next week visit prhc.on.ca or peterboroughpublichealth.ca