Public health experts urge province to test more widely, while health minister promises increase ‘soon’
Mike Crawley · CBC News · Posted: Apr 08, 2020 5:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 19 minutes ago
The number of COVID-19 tests completed in Ontario each day has dwindled steadily over the past week, raising concerns that the province is missing cases of the illness and failing to capture the true spread of the novel coronavirus.
Data from the Ministry of Health shows there were just 2,568 new test results provided on Tuesday. That’s roughly half the daily target of 5,000 that the government promised to achieve in late March, and far short of the 19,000 tests per day promised for the third week of April.
The slower-than-promised pace continued Wednesday, with Ontario announcing 3,237 new test results.
To best combat, the spread of COVID-19, experts in public health and epidemiology say Ontario needs to be testing more rather than less.
“I am a little bit concerned that we don’t have a very good handle of what’s happening with this epidemic right now,” Dr. Jeff Kwong, a professor of public health and family medicine at the University of Toronto, told CBC News.
“If we can identify more of the cases that are in the community it will help give us a better idea of what’s going on.”
Ontario is testing a smaller portion of its population than anywhere else in Canada. Quebec, B.C. and Alberta are each testing at double the province’s rate.
The reason for the shortfall appears to be that Ontario continues to restrict who gets tested by recommending against testing people who have not recently travelled internationally, even if they have symptoms of COVID-19.