Ontario will indeed restrict COVID-19 testing guidance to those experiencing symptoms, vulnerable populations and contacts of known cases regardless of symptoms, in a bid to reduce ongoing lineups and backlogs.
The new guidance signals a total inversion of provincial messaging over the late spring, where Premier Doug Ford and others empowered any individual who needed a test to set up and look for a test.
Ontario Health CEO Matt Anderson told correspondents Thursday the move will let loose testing limit with respect to the individuals who truly need it and the individuals who line up at an appraisal place who don’t have any indications, no known contact with a distinguished case and are not part of a high danger gathering, for example, medical care labourers, cross-border workers or first responders will be turned away.
“We want to ensure we have the testing capacity for our priority populations. If you have no contact, no symptoms and are not part of a high-risk setting, you’re not getting a test now,” he said. “Back in the spring this was our approach and we are going back to that model. If activity diminishes we would be able to go forward again.”
Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe said she is confident the move to restrict testing will not impact her ability to track the spread of the virus.
“When we opened up testing to anyone who wanted it, we didn’t find cases,” she said. Later she stressed that anyone who receives a contact alert from the COVID Alert smartphone app would be considered a contact of a case and would be allowed to continue to proceed to test under the new guidance.
Both stressed the move to alter the guidance does not mean that no asymptomatic people will be tested, it just means that the practice of what Anderson called “reassurance testing,” where people with no known symptoms or connection to any other discovery of the virus seek a test for peace of mind, will end.
“What we need to do is focus on symptomatic people and their contacts and outbreaks, in order to get the backlog down,” Yaffe said.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
News source: CP24