The Ontario government has confirmed it is sending some COVID-19 tests to the United States for processing amid a backlog at the province’s medical laboratories.
The confirmation from a spokesperson at the Ministry of Health comes a day after Premier Doug Ford recognized that the territory is arriving at its limit with regards to testing for COVID-19 during Ontario’s second wave of the disease.
“Testing is a key pillar in Ontario’s fight against COVID-19. As Ontarians expect, all options are on the table to quickly identify cases and contain the spread,” the spokesperson said.
“This includes working with third-party providers, such as Quest Diagnostics, to process more tests and achieve provincial testing targets.”
According to their website, Quest Diagnostics is an American company based in New Jersey with outposts in Mexico, Ireland and India. There are no Canadian locations.
On Monday, Ford said his government has been working with universities and private laboratories to bolster the province’s testing capacity. The premier made the comments as Ontario recorded a backlog of approximately 68,000 tests for the disease.
“We have an issue with getting enough diagnostic lab technicians, we’re reaching out right across the province,” Ford said. The premier did not disclose that he was looking south of the border for help in processing tests.
Testing for COVID-19 has been a hot topic throughout the pandemic as experts and medical officials agree it is one of the most crucial tools in identifying, tracking and containing the disease.
Ontario residents who want to be tested for COVID-19 are now required to make an appointment, putting an end to walk-ins at the province’s 153 assessment centres.
Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch said that while an appointment-based system may have drawbacks, it also may help in more effective testing.
“We know that a system like this can really ensure that people who have symptoms or exposures or risk factors are prioritized for a test. We also know that this will help with the lineups and we’ll help with the tremendous backlog,” Bogoch said.
A little more than 38,000 tests were conducted in Ontario over the last 24-hour period.
The province has said it hopes to reach 50,000 tests in mid-October and 68,000 in mid-November.
Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
News source: CTV News