Province to massively expand COVID-19 testing

 

The Ontario government says it will begin implementing the next phase of its strategy to significantly expand and enhance testing for COVID-19.

In addition to the ongoing testing of the general public, Ontario will be proactively testing several priority groups such as:

  • Hospital inpatients
  • Residents of long-term care and retirement homes
  • Health care workers, caregivers, care providers, paramedics, and first responders, including police and firefighters;
  • Remote, isolated, rural and Indigenous communities
  • Other congregate living centres, including homeless shelters, prisons and group homes
  • Specific vulnerable populations, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or hemodialysis and requiring transplants, as well as pregnant persons, newborns and cross-border workers
  • Other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders

“We’re laser-focused on ramping up our testing capacity so we can protect the most vulnerable in our communities and those who protect them, like our frontline health care workers and first responders,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement this afternoon.

“By expanding our testing capacity, we will be able to find cases faster, intervene earlier, reduce the spread, and save lives.”

The province is expecting to double the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by Wednesday, April 15 and to 14,000 by April 29, “at which point overall lab capacity will have been further expanded.”

The provincial government says there have been extensive efforts to expand Ontario’s lab testing capacity and will continue to increase it by leveraging hospital, community and research labs.

To date, the province has conducted over 94,000 tests.

“By significantly increasing the number of tests each day, we will identify cases early, contain them and prevent putting more people at risk,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Doing so is especially important for priority groups like hospital inpatients, long-term care home residents and our brave frontline health care workers and first responders, all of whom are more vulnerable to being exposed to this virus. Nothing is more important than protecting their health and well-being.”

The province has re-established same-day testing results, which have been made accessible to patients through the government’s online portal.

The province is also updating the list of symptoms related to COVID-19, including a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, loss of sense of smell or taste, diarrhea, or nausea/vomiting. For seniors, additional symptoms include chills, delirium with no other obvious reason, falls, acute functional decline, increased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure.

All residents, including those who have tested negative for COVID-19, are asked to continue following precautions, including staying at home except to pick up essential supplies and keeping at least two metres apart from others.

“While an individual may receive a negative test at a given moment in time, the individual is still able to contract and spread the virus,” the government says.

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