COVID-19-SECOND WAVE, ONTARIO UPDATES AND TESTING GUIDELINES


Ontario reported 625 new cases of coronavirus on September 30, bringing the provincial total to 51,710. On September 28, 700 new cases are already reported and marked a new record for daily infections since the start of Covid-19 pandemic this March. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said according to health officials the province is now officially in the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. Ontario health officials say the province could see upwards of 1,000 coronavirus cases a day in October, as the second wave is in full swing. As we know health authorities have announced that this wave can be more complicated or more complex. It can also be worse than the first wave we faced earlier this year.


As the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed, the province is also adapting to its updated methodology to testing. With the upcoming flu and cold season approaching, Ontario's publicly funded testing resources are required to be made available to those needing them the most, such as those with symptoms of COVID-19, children, old people, and vulnerable sector individuals. The daily epidemiologic summary captures the most significant day-over-day changes in new case counts and deaths, cases by age/gender, long-term care associated cases/deaths and cases broken down by public health unit. The daily summary also includes total cumulative counts. The daily summary is based on data reported by public health units across Ontario. Data for each day’s summary is pulled from the province’s integrated Public Health Information System (IPHIS) at 4:00 p.m. the previous day and from the Toronto Public Health Coronavirus Rapid Entry System (CORES) and the Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 Ottawa Database (COD), and Middlesex-London COVID-19 Case and Contact Management tool (CCM) as of 2:00 p.m. the previous day.


In consultation with health experts, Ontario's Testing Strategy Expert Panel and health authorities have recommended Ontario update testing guidelines to prioritize those who are at the greatest risk, while shifting away from untargeted asymptomatic testing. The case definition for COVID-19 has been also updated. All related information is also changing frequently, hence the people of Ontario are required to check back often for newer information and updates.


Ontario government has established the testing criteria for Covid-19. Publicly-funded testing will be available and easily accessible for those who are symptomatic, have had close contact with a confirmed case, or are part of an outbreak investigation. In addition, testing will continue to be available on a targeted basis for specific asymptomatic individuals who are at greater risk due to their health condition or employment, at the direction of the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. Evolving the corona testing guidance regularly will support timely access to testing for those who need it.


Effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at designated assessment centers if anyone:

  • Is showing COVID-19 symptoms;

  • Any resident/work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit;

  • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;

  • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Starting on September 25, you can get tested for COVID-19 at select pharmacies if you are not showing symptoms and eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care. The group targeted for testing includes workers or residents in high-risk settings like LTC Homes, visitors of LTC homes, workers or residents of shelter homes or any individual identified as part of a targeted testing campaign by the province or local public health.

As Ontario continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, Ontario's Testing Strategy Expert Panel and Public Health Ontario will continue to actively review testing guidelines.


COVID-19 continues to be a serious threat in our communities, and current modelling shows the importance of adhering to public health measures. Our best defense against COVID-19 is still to follow all public health measures like practicing avoid crowding and large gathering, physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill even with mild symptoms, so we can stop the spread. Testing continues to be available at any of the province's 150 assessment centers currently open, and at participating pharmacies starting this Friday. To find the closest pharmacy or assessment center, you may visit ontario.ca/ covidtest.


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