#Ontario; #ExpandingTesting; #Covid19; #ProtectionOfVulnerable; #SaveLives; #PreventSpreadOfVirus
Ottawa, Apr 10 (Canadian-Media): To stop the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario government to significantly expanding the enhance testing capacity by leveraging hospital, community and research labs, media reports said.
Ontario Premiere Doug Ford said that speeding the testing capacity would serve to protect the most vulnerable in our communities as well as those who protect the vulnerable, such as our front line health care workers and first responders. Also this would speed up the identification of cases faster, said Ford, and intervene earlier to prevent the spread of virus to save lives.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
Health-system partners, including public health units, assessment centres, primary care settings and long-term care homes have been provided with testing guidelines for specific vulnerable populations and essential workers. Guidelines would also be provided by the province to begin targeting surveillance by sampling populations within northern towns.
Besides the testing of the general public at any of the 100 assessment centers now established across the province, Ontario will be testing several priority groups, including: Hospital inpatients; Residents of long-term care and retirement homes; Health care providers, caregivers, care providers, paramedics, and first responders, including police and firefighters; Remote, Indigenous, isolated and rural communities; homeless shelters, prisons and group homes; Specific vulnerable populations, including patients undergoing chemotherapy or hemodialysis and requiring transplants, as well as pregnant women, newborns and cross-border workers; and other essential workers, as defined by provincial orders.
By implementing this strategy, Ontario expects to double the number of tests processed each day to 8,000 by April 15, 2020 and 14,000 by April 29, 2020, at which point overall lab capacity will have been further expanded.
This testing strategy follows extensive efforts to expand Ontario's lab testing capacity, which helped to quickly eliminate a backlog of approximately 10,000 people within less than two weeks. To date, the province has conducted over 94,000 tests.
Access to same-day testing results by patients through a new user-friendly online portal has been facilitated by the province to ease pressure on public health units and frontline workers, allowing them to focus their efforts on combating COVID-19.
Expansion of the capacity of public health units to conduct contact tracing and case management by the province are critical to stopping the spread of the virus.
The province is also updating the list of symptoms related to COVID-19, which are in addition to difficulty breathing, fever, cough, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat and runny nose. These include a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, loss of sense of smell or taste, diarrhea or nausea/vomiting.
For seniors, there are additional symptoms including chills, delirium with no other obvious reason, falls, acute functional decline, increased heart rate and decreased blood pressure.