The turn-around time for COVID-19 test results in Kenora will be improving, as samples can now be sent to Winnipeg for processing. Still, Ray Racette at the district hospital says there will be limits.

"We're finding -- because these test kits are coming for the first time in Canada -- there's only so many test kits that are available. So, it limits the capacity that you can do," he said.

While the hospital also now has about 50 test kits, and they can be processed in about 45 minutes by the hospital lab, Racette is reluctant to use them, as he doesn't know when a new shipment will be coming in.

Those with symptoms should still get in touch with their doctor -- or the health unit -- for a referral to the assessment centre in Kenora. Racette noted the improved turn-around time will help trace the virus, once a positive result is found.

The city's isolation centre at the Keewatin Arena is almost ready for patients, as staff fine-tune infection control practices. Staffing for the emergency centre is also being finalized. 

At this point, there are still no confirmed cases  in Kenora. However, Racette believes there are people who have the virus, it's simply a matter of finding them and getting the test results.

Also this week, eight patients from the district hospital in Kenora have been moved to Pinecrest, in order to make room for a wave of coronavirus patients. The president and CEO at the hospital, Ray Racette, talks about the move.

"We're essentially operating a closed unit," he said. "Really the only other service that they're getting is the bathing."

Racette emphasized the patients transferred from the hospital to Pinecrest were tested for COVID-19, before the move.

As the hospital continues to prepare for a wave of COVID-19 patients, Racette says they've created an additional 20 beds -- including eight in the intensive care unit for a total of 12 ICU beds -- but they'll need additional staff to look after ventilators, if more patients come.

A patient would need care 24-hours a day, if they're on a ventilator, and the hospital only has two staff able to lool after them. More ventilators are available from a regional pool, if needed, Racette added.

A shipment of personal protective equipment is now in Thunder Bay, as it makes its way to the Kenora area. The hospital is willing to share it with other frontline workers in need, Racette noted. 

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