TIMMINS -- The COVID-19 Assessment Centre in Timmins is increasing its hours. While appointments are still required, there will be more opportunities to get tested and more people will be taking calls.

Officials say there's been a surge in appointments recently due to school children and their families seeking tests.

Timmins and District Hospital officials are managing the centre, which is now located across the street from the hospital. They will partnering with paramedics to resume testing on Saturdays.

"So this week the phone lines will be open on Saturday, and just try to be patient with us," said Kim Bazinet, manager of the assessment centre. "We will get back to you within one business day. Our bookings are not always same-day bookings because we're trying to accommodate everybody. And like I said, yesterday we saw 216. So there's only so much capacity we can put through safely through the assessment centres."

'People are angry'

Bazinet said that's the highest number of people the centre has processed in one day. And she said there's been an increase in people getting agitated at the centre. Signs have had to be put up to remind people to be respectful.

"People are angry, and I get it because it definitely impacts people's financial situation because they have to stay home; and there is a delay in getting an appointment," Bazinet said. "We realize the challenges. But we have those challenges as well so we're just asking that people try to be kind."

Officials remind people not to show up at the emergency department, or at the assessment centre for a test. They said people need to call ahead to book an appointment. They will continue to adjust the operating hours depending on the community's needs.