Ontario assessment centres will no longer be testing asymptomatic individuals who have not had contact with COVID-19 cases, or outbreaks, and are not in high-risk workplaces.
On Thursday, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, Ontario’s deputy chief medical officer of health, said that the average person out there who is not exposed to a case, is not part of an outbreak, and has no symptoms “should not be getting testing.”
She said “it adds no value. In fact, what we found when there’s very little COVID in that group, is it produces false positives which complicates things even more which causes a lot of concern.”
Effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at assessment centres if they are showing COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed to the virus as informed by the public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app.
And those who work in a setting where a COVID-19 outbreak has occured, as identified and informed by the local public health unit.
Or for those who are eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
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Yaffe emphasized that symptomatic individuals who have contacts of known confirmed outbreak and cases should get tested, or who are in higher risk workplaces.
“We need to focus on the cases with their contacts and get the turnaround down to get those tests results faster,” she said.
The new testing at pharmacies will be for asymptomatic people, which will be targeted testing for frontline healthcare workers, long-term care workers and those working in congregate settings.
“We want to ensure that we have the testing capacity for our priority populations. If you do not have a known contact, are not symptomatic, or not in high risk settings we are not doing those tests now,” Matthew Anderson the President and CEO of Ontario Health said during the conference.
He noted that because the guidance is only coming out today, there will likely be more of an impact on assessment centres and lines tomorrow.
Assessment centres will be provided this updated information to inform individuals coming for testing.
With coronavirus cases on the rise in Ontario, these new testing approach is meant to increase capacity for individuals who need to be prioritized for testing.