Ontario to Expand COVID-19 Testing capacities

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announces ODB changes due to COVID19

The Ontario government is starting to expand its COVID-19 testing strategy.  The increased tests are designed to work alongside the existing assessment centres.

“By expanding our testing capacity, we will be able to find cases faster, intervene earlier, reduce the spread, and save lives,” Premier Doug Ford said.  The province will proactively test the following groups:

  • 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; and
  • Other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders.

“By significantly increasing the number of tests each day, we will identify cases early, contain them, and prevent putting more people at risk,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said. A backlog of 10,000 COVID-19 tests have been cleared in less than two weeks. 

They expect to double amount of tests processed to each day in order to reach 8,000 by April 15, 2020.  They’re hoping to reach 14,000 by the end of the month, at which point the lab capacity will have increased.  Ontario has reported an increase of 473 cases of COVID-19 since yesterday.  They have also introduced an enhanced assessment tool here.