Ontario lays out new COVID-19 testing plan

Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to media at Queens Park, Toronto, May 29, 2020. Photo provided by Premier of Ontario/YouTube

Ontarians will now have more opportunities to get themselves tested for novel coronavirus.

On Friday, Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott unveiled the next stage of the province’s testing strategy. This stage introduces a three-pronged approach to boosting testing numbers.

While he acknowledged that testing will reveal more positive cases of COVID-19, Ford told reporters that the additional testing is the key to getting a handle on the fight.

“We want to know how the virus is spreading. Today’s expanded testing strategy is the next step. The more data we have, the better we understand what’s happening on the ground,” said Ford.

The first approach announced is the expansion of testing for asymptomatic people, which is already underway at some centres. Anyone with concerns about exposure who appears at any of Ontario’s 129 assessment centres will be provided with a test.

The second initiative is expanded testing and monitoring of vulnerable populations, particularly those in long-term care homes, shelters, group homes, and other living spaces. The third and final approach is testing to ensure rapid response for outbreaks in specific neighbourhoods, hospitals, and workplaces.

Elliott cautioned that even if an asymptomatic person tests negative for the virus, the patient may not completely be in the clear.

“Although your test may be negative, you must continue to practice physical distancing, wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge, and wash your hands regularly. These simple actions will help keep everyone safe and healthy,” said Elliott.

Ford also mentioned that the increased testing will help move things toward the Stage Two reopening of Ontario’s economy, which consists of more workplaces being reopened and larger public gatherings.