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Ottawa, Apr 9 (Canadian-Media): A day after the Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the province's low rate of COVID-19 testing unacceptable, Dr Peter Donnelly, president and CEO of Public Health Ontario had taken temporary medical leave, media reports said.
Doug Ford. Image credit: Twitter handle
Although the reasons for Donnelly taking a medical leave Thursday have not been disclosed, but the agency says it is not COVID-19 related.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Ford said that Donnelly's sudden departure had nothing to do with his job performance.
He said he is not frustrated with any individual or any group. Praising Donnelly as a champion, he said he can't wait to welcome him back to the team once his health improves.
Colleen Geiger, who currently serves as the agency's chief of strategy, stakeholder relations, information and knowledge has been appointed as acting president and CEO, while the rest of the senior leadership team remains in place.
Donnelly took over the public health body in November 2014 with his strong background in violence reduction and anti-gang strategies.
The decline in the testing in recent weeks due to a lack of materials, staff and capacity led to a 10,000-sample backlog, and long waits for diagnosis.
After the resolution of these issues, fewer than 4,000 samples a day were being processed, well below the stated daily capacity of 13,000.
That discrepancy is what set Ford off on Wednesday, as he publicly demanded an immediate improvement.
Later that day, the province appointed a former Toronto public health head, Dr. David McKeown, as a troubleshooter, charged with rethinking the province's response to the pandemic.
As of Thursday, Ontario has tallied 5,759 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 223 deaths.