Ontario has updated its guidelines on who should be tested for COVID-19
The Ontario government has officially expanded its list of individuals who should be given priority when it comes to being tested for COVID-19.
All people who live or work in "congregate" settings, such as shelters, mental health institutions, prisons, group homes and hospices, are now considered priority candidates under the province's new testing guidelines, published April 15.
So too are all essential workers, cross-border workers, and anyone living in the same household as a healthcare worker or first responder.
A new category called "specific priority populations" has also been added to the guidelines and encompasses all patients requiring frequent contact with the healthcare system, such as those who are pregnant, being treated for cancer or dialysis, are pre-/post-transplant, or have just been born.
NEW: Updated #COVID19 testing guidelines issued by Ontario's Ministry of Health. It adds these groups to the priority list for testing, if they have symptoms: essential workers, cross-border workers and people living with health-care workers.— Mike Crawley (@CBCQueensPark) April 16, 2020
Here's guidance re long-term care: pic.twitter.com/5EU9FFIkw1
While testing of people without symptoms is still "generally not recommended," the province now states that newborns with mothers who have symptoms of COVID-19 should now be tested within 24 hours of delivery, regardless of their symptoms.
"Atypical presentations of COVID-19 should be considered, particularly in older persons, children and people living with a developmental disability," the guidelines read.
"All facilities conducting testing should ensure an appropriate amount of swabs are available and exercise prudence when ordering swabs to ensure an equitable distribution across the province."
Previous to this update, the province's original testing guidelines (as released on April 8) stated that priority should be given only hospital inpatients, residents of long-term care or retirement homes, symptomatic healthcare workers in the above settings and symptomatic members of remote or indigenous communities.
The modifications this week are meant to "help Ontario take full advantage of the testing capacity it has built, and will help the province more effectively identify and contain cases among vulnerable populations," according to a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott, per the Canadian Press.
Fortunately, as demanded by Premier Doug Ford last week, the province has ramped up its testing rates significantly in recent days.
COVID-19 in Ontario: April 16— Phil Jacobson (@phil_jacobson) April 16, 2020
📋 8,961 cases (514 new, +6.1%)
🧪 9k new tests today—highest number of tests in single day
🙏 46.8% of all confirmed cases are now resolved
🤞 Case growth 5-day avg has decreased for over 2 consecutive weeks (6.2% today)https://t.co/fdR3kxtInY
Public Health Ontario announced in its daily case total update on Thursday that more than 9,000 tests had been completed on Wednesday — up from 6,010 tests on Tuesday and just over 4,800 on Monday.
Ford maintains that the province can, and will, eventually be processing some 16,000 tests per day.
As of Thursday afternoon, Ontario's dedicated COVID-19 web portal had recorded 128,093 tests within the province, 8,961 with results coming back positive.
More than 423 people have now died as a result of contracting the 2019 novel coronavirus in Ontario and 4,194 cases are considered "resolved."
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