Ontario Premier Doug Ford has kept his promise to increase coronavirus testing in the province.
On Friday, Ford announced the next phase in expanding testing in Ontario to 8,000 tests per day by April 15 and 14,000 tests per day by April 29.
“We’re going to find cases faster, intervene earlier, and stop this virus in its tracks,” said Ford.
Priority will be given to long-term care homes and retirement homes, while more tests will be available to hospital patients and frontline healthcare workers and first responders. Ford also promised increased testing in homeless shelters and prisons.
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Health Minister Christine Elliott also acknowledged the importance of testing quickly as a way to save more lives. She echoed Premier Ford’s focus on those most vulnerable to the virus.
“Moving forward, we are going to proactively test several priority groups, including hospital-inpatients, residents of long-term care and retirement homes, healthcare workers, caregivers and care providers, as well as paramedics and first responders, including police and firefighters,” said Elliott.
Members of remote and rural communities, those who live in homeless shelters, prisons, or group homes, and specific vulnerable populations – including patients undergoing chemotherapy or requiring transplants – will also be prioritized.
Ongoing testing of the general public will continue at any of the approximately 100 assessment centres in Ontario.
“Anyone exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 can and will be tested at the recommendation of their physician or a physician at an assessment centre,” said Elliott.
In addition, the province has updated its list of symptoms related to COVID-19 to include a hoarse voice, difficulty swallowing, loss of sense of smell or taste, diarrhea, or nausea and vomiting.
Seniors are being asked to watch out for chills, delirium, falls, increased heart rate, and decreased blood pressure.
Existing symptoms include difficulty breathing, fever, cough, muscle aches, fatigue, headache, sore throat, and runny nose.
As of April 9, there are 6,237 cases in Ontario with 222 reported deaths.