Ontario is now limiting who can be tested for coronavirus
As more and more dedicated coronavirus assessment centres open up around the province, the government of Ontario has placed new restrictions on who exactly qualifies to be tested in order to help conserve much-needed resources.
2/3 Just days ago, Ontario narrowed the pool of people who will get tested for #coronavirus because the demand for tests by concerned citizens far outpaced the capacity to test. Does Ontario have plans to increase testing capacity? If so, what are the target numbers and dates?— Jonathan Sher (@SherOnHealth) March 15, 2020
Even individuals who were previously considered likely to be a risk — such as those who just returned from international travel and are presenting with symptoms of respiratory illness — will no longer necessarily meet the criteria to be tested due to tight global supply of nasal swab kits.
"In an effort to ensure swabs are available where most needed, the Public Health Laboratory is limiting the volume of swabs supplied," Public Health Ontario said in a statement, adding that it is "also validating other swab types and will provide an update when available."
Nasal swab testing will now be limited to vulnerable groups who have not recently traveled, such as the elderly and immunocompromised, as well as people who have been in contact with existing COVID-19 patients and are experiencing respiratory symptoms.
Front-line healthcare workers with symptoms will also be eligible for testing, as will anyone living on a First Nations reserve.
Though disqualifying recent travelers who have fallen ill from examination may seem unwise — and will surely affect proper COVID-19 patient counts — all new cases within the province are currently self-quarantining at home and did not require hospitalization after testing.
And, all Canadians who have recently travelled are being instructed to self-isolate for 14 days anyway, regardless of whether they currently have symptoms.
INCREASE OUR TESTING. Our testing for Coronavirus is less than 800 per day for the entire Ontario. South Korea does 20,000+ /day! Launch drive through testing centres across Ontario!— Alex Haditaghi (@Alexhaditaghi) March 16, 2020
B.C. has imposed similar limitations to its 2019 novel coronavirus testing, with the province's chief medical officer telling press at a news conference that "we don't need to test everyone who's been outside of the country even if they're mildly ill."
As soon as a larger supply of testing kits becomes available, Ontario plans to move back to making tests available to a larger demographic, CTV News reports.
In the meantime, the provincial government has created a virtual self-assessment tool to determine if you or a loved one should call in for a phone assessment, and from there, potentially come in for testing.
So far, 10,178 individuals in Ontario have been tested for the communicable disease. At the time of publication, 177 have been confirmed positive, five are resolved, and 1,537 are still under investigation.
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