Ontario will hire 600 more contact tracers to help isolate COVID-19 cases, after Toronto temporarily suspends tracing.
On Wednesday, the Ontario government said they have already hired 100 new contact tracers, many of whom are starting work this week, with up to 500 more recruits expected to be hired by mid-November.
“With these additional hires, we will have hundreds more boots on the ground to support contact tracing throughout the province, which is an essential weapon in our fight against COVID-19,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“Thanks to the absolute pros tracking down the data, we are reaching cases and contacts faster, with 30 public health units reaching 90 percent of cases within 24 hours. There is nowhere this virus can hide ― and that’s critical to our efforts to contain the spread of this deadly threat and flatten the curve of the second wave.”
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And Ontario Public Service (OPS) staff are also volunteering for redeployment to provide surge support for contact tracing this fall and winter, and over 600 Statistics Canada employees have been on-boarded since July to assist with contact follow-up.
According to the province, there are more than 2,750 case and contact management staff across all public health units ― up from approximately 1,500 staff in the spring.
These 600 new recruits and 600 personnel from Statistics Canada will bring the total number to nearly 4,000.
In recent weeks, the province has seen a significant increase in cases, especially in hotspots like Toronto, Ottawa, and Peel.
In response the province is providing an additional 150 staff to the Ottawa area, and over 200 staff are being on-boarded in Toronto.
On October 3, Toronto Public Health said they were temporarily suspending contact tracing as their teams became overwhelmed by a surge of new cases, leaving newly-positive coronavirus patients to notify their own close contacts.
Toronto has the largest team of contact tracers in the country with 700 staff, but said they couldn’t keep up as as more and more cases are identified in the city.