Ontario rushes to open more coronavirus testing centres
Just after the federal government put $1 billion toward combating the 2019 novel coronavirus and the City of Toronto launched a special COVID-19 task force, the province has announced some new measures that are being implemented immediately to help deal with the global pandemic in Ontario.
This includes enhanced access to screening, expanding lab-testing capacity, and implementing new initiatives to keep the public and frontline workers safe. (2/3)— ONTHealth (@ONThealth) March 12, 2020
First and foremost, standalone centres to test for the virus are going to be opening to the public over the next several days at North York General Hospital, Scarborough Health Network, Trillium Health Partners (which has locations Mississauga, Queensway and Port Credit), Brampton Civic Hospital, Ottawa Hospital and Mackenzie Health (Richmond Hill/Vaughan).
These are in addition to the the forthcoming COVID-19 Community Assessment Centre at Toronto's Michael Garron Hospital — which may have a drive-thru component — and others that will be opening across the province "in the coming weeks," according to a release on the Ontario website.
The centres will ensure that potential patients can get quick and easy testing for the communicable disease without putting others in hospitals and doctors' offices at risk of exposure.
These centres are located in dedicated spaces that will facilitate high-quality care, to protect broader patient populations. Learn more at: https://t.co/o6ajVPomZ9. 2/2— ONTHealth (@ONThealth) March 12, 2020
The Ministry of Education today made the unprecented move of shutting down all public schools for the two weeks following March Break to help curb community spread, MPPs consider suspending legislative meetings for the same reason, which could delay the spring budget.
Doug Ford has also already postponed controversial cuts to our health system, meaning that hospitals will receive 10 per cent more municipal funding than planned.
"This action, which recognizes the considerable time and resources necessary for public health units to effectively respond to COVID-19, would keep municipal funding levels for public health units in calendar year 2021 at the same level as calendar year 2020," the statement reads.
Ontario has instated new billing codes to make it easier for doctors to assess patients over the phone rather than in-person — as everyone who shows signs of respiratory illness and has traveled recently is advised to stay home — and is creating a virtual self-assessment resource that will help residents determine if they fit the criteria to be tested for the virus, and tell them next steps.
This is all amid a province-wide restructure of public health units to properly utilize available expertise.
Despite the province's preparedness, who knows what the next few weeks will look like as far as COVID-19 cases in Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford has told people to continue to travel and enjoy themselves on March Break while many officials are recommending people avoid travel and practice social distancing.
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