Ontario moves to an appointment-only system for COVID-19 tests starting Tuesday as the province grapples with the second wave of the virus.

The move comes after many centres saw hours-long waits for COVID-19 tests and many people being turned away.

Premier Doug Ford said at a recent news conference that as frigid temperatures start rolling in, long lineups outside testing centres would be counterproductive for public health.

According to the province’s website, there are 77 COVID assessment centres in the GTA, including those at select pharmacies, and people need to “contact the assessment centre or pharmacy” to book a test.

Ford called for patience on the part of the public as hospitals and assessment centres switch to the appointment-only systems, a move which he said might temporarily lead to longer wait times.

In a bid to reduce wait times, Ontario Health recently introduced COVID-19 testing at a number of pharmacies across the province, for those who are asymptomatic and wish to get tested.

Several hospitals have set up online portals for appointment bookings, but as of Monday evening, most of those portals showed no-availability of booking slots for the next three or four days.

Several assessment centres are adapting a daily first-come-first-serve approach, wherein new booking slots will be up for grabs every day at a predecided time in the morning.

Here is a list of assessment centres along with phone numbers and online appointment booking links:

With files from Cheyenne Bholla, Kevin Jiang, Libaan Osman and Manuela Vega.

Akrit Michael is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Reach him via email: [email protected]