Ontario to deploy 200 staff to help Toronto with contact tracing

Oct 5 2020, 3:36 pm

Ontario’s Ministry of Health is deploying 200 staff to help with Toronto’s contact tracing  over the next four weeks.

The province is supporting Toronto and Ottawa Public Health with additional support through direct assignment of Statistics Canada, OPS and private sector staffing.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Health told Daily Hive this includes 200 staff coming on in the next four weeks to Toronto Public Health, starting with onboarding on October 5. These staff will immediately help TPH reach out to cases, and also provide contact tracing support in the coming weeks.

An additional 150 staff will be provided to support Ottawa Public Health with case and contact management getting started over the next four weeks, beginning this week too.

More will be hired over the course of five weeks for a total of 600 staff.

“Contact tracing support for public health units is being supplemented by the additional hiring of a minimum of 600 staff (case managers and contact tracers) in the next five weeks, staring this week,” they said.

On Saturday, 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 they can’t keep up as as more and more cases are identified in the city.

Public health staff will no longer notify people of their test results, assess their symptoms to determine symptom onset, and make sure they can self-isolate effectively.

Instead of notifying each patient’s close contacts, staff will now instruct patients to call the people they’ve socialized with themselves.

But, contact tracers will still work to notify people connected to an outbreak.

Contact tracing will resume in Toronto when new case numbers come down again, the health authority said.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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