covid 19 assessment centres ontario

Ontario has been refusing to test 25% of people who show up to COVID-19 assessment centres

The COVID-19 test situation in Ontario is less than ideal right now, as Premier Doug Ford made perfectly clear during his daily press conference on Wednesday when he chastised the low number of people being tested for the virus as "unacceptable."

"The days are done of these 2,000 or 3,000 a day being tested," said Ford to reporters. "Moving forward, we need to see 13,000 tests every single day... we have to make this happen and we need to start doing it immediately, starting tomorrow."

If what the Premier says comes to fruition, Ontario should see at least 300 times more people being tested today for COVID-19 than it did yesterday.

We won't know exactly how many tests were performed today until tomorrow morning, when Thursday's numbers come out — but we're starting to understand why testing rates have been so dismally low to date.

CBC News reports that of the 68 COVID-19 assessment centres across Ontario, most are pretty much "empty, with only a handful of people showing up to be tested each day."

This is because medical and public health officials have been urging people with symptoms to stay home and isolate, referring only the most severe cases and vulnerable patients to test centres, where strict criteria has been put into place due to test kit and supply shortages.

"Even when people with COVID-19 symptoms get an official referral for testing, the shortages have prompted these centres to refuse to test 25 to 30 per cent of those who showed up this past week, according to figures provided by the Ministry of Health," reports CBC's Mike Crawley.

There are indeed many reports to be found online from symptomatic people who tried to get tested for the coronavirus and failed.

"My husband and I were quite sick and tried repeatedly to get tested but were always denied," wrote one Toronto woman on Twitter yesterday. "Thankfully, we have recovered but we will never be counted in the statistics."

"My son, 3, was just turned away from Ottawa’s COVID-19 testing centre because they are only testing people who have travelled abroad or had direct contact with a confirmed case," wrote another resident. "This is not how you stop the spread. He has the symptoms. Test everyone."

With a previous backlog of tests now mostly cleared and all necessary supplies in place, Ford says the province needs to "move forward in a rapid fashion to make sure every single person possible can get tested."

Epidemiologists say it's necessary for them to understand, and thus stop or slow down the spread of COVID-19, which to date has killed 200 Ontarians and infected 5,759 (that we know of.)

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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