As numbers show Ontario is testing fewer people than anywhere else in the country, Premier Doug Ford preempted reporters questions during his media briefing Wednesday – saying the province needs to be doing 13,000 tests a day. “We need to be doing it immediately … starting tomorrow,” said Ford.
The number of COVID-19 tests completed in Ontario has dropped over the past few days with data from the Ministry of Health showing just 3,237 new tests on Wednesday, which is drastically lower than what the province had previously targeted.
Experts say Ontario needs to be testing more rather than less.
“We have the ability to do 13,000 tests a day, and there’s no reason we can’t do that. I want to see every frontline worker tested. We owe it to them. It’s common sense. The more people you test, the better the numbers are going to be,” said Ford.
“I’ve made myself loud and clear to the CEO of Ontario Health, I’m going to be on this thing like a dog on a bone. When South Korea flattened the curve and when Germany flattened the curve…the tested, tested, tested and we’re going to do the same.”
Health Minister Christine Elliott says they do have a plan to ramp up testing and those details will be released shortly. “We didn’t have the reagent before …. we do now, so we are able to ramp up testing,” said Elliott. “We have enough reagent and test kits to continue at a rate of 13,000,” said Ford.
Public Health Ontario laboratories had a backlog that peaked in March. Ford says that backlog is now cleared with help from private labs.
Ontario grocery stores, pharmacies to be closed Good Friday, Easter Sunday
Premier Ford announced a break for pharmacies and grocery store employees saying they deserve a day off. Both will be closed on Friday and Sunday for the upcoming holiday long weekend .
“The truth is that everyone working in our grocery stores and pharmacies, our truck drivers and those working the line, they have been working day and night for weeks to keep the food and medicine we need on the shelves,” said Ford. Stores will be open Thursday, Saturday and Monday.
Ontario expands construction hours
In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, Ontario is extending construction hours for essential construction projects. The province released a statement saying work on new hospital builds, expansions, and COVID-19 assessment centres will be able to continue any time of the night or day.
“During this escalating crisis, we are taking immediate steps to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place, particularly to properly care for those with severe COVID-19 symptoms and other patients who require critical care,” said Ford.
Ontario will temporarily limit local noise bylaws from applying to these types of essential construction activities. Extending hours for essential construction is mean to give worksite managers more flexibility to stagger shifts and limit the number of people in one place.
“As part of our plan to stop the spread of COVID-19, we are continuing to expand health care capacity in communities across the province,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott. “That includes building new assessment centres and field hospitals, both of which are critical to ensuring we are able to care for Ontarians as we contain this new virus. Extended hours will ensure that work on these facilities continues safely to the benefit of all Ontarians.”