Coronavirus: Ontario government expands guidelines for priority COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus: Ontario government expands guidelines for priority COVID-19 testing

Coronavirus: Ontario government expands guidelines for priority COVID-19 testing

Ontario Premier Doug Ford answers questions at the daily briefing at the Queen's Park Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday.

Another 99 nursing home residents have contracted the potentially deadly illness that is taking a heavy toll in several long term care facilities, prompting Premier Doug Ford to target more resources to the sector he says has been hit like a "wildfire" by the virus.

"To ensure the safety of long-term care residents, these workers are subject to "active screening" direction set out in a directive by the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which requires a rigorous screening process before being permitted entry into a long-term care home".

There have been 104 outbreaks reported in long-term care homes, with cases in 933 residents and 530 staff members.

The order takes effect April 22 and is only in place for six days, though the government said it will likely be extended, as with its other emergency orders. "We have to raise the standards.This is a wake-up call to the world, not just Ontario".

"This is a temporary measure to allow for the reduction of the spread of COVID-19", she said.

Long-Term Care Minister Merrillee Fullerton says Ontario will work with the federal government to address wages for those workers while they are prevented from working at more than one home.

Despite the province issuing an emergency order prohibiting employees from working at multiple long-term care facilities in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, temporary workers are still being allowed to work in more than one facility.

Fullerton added that the testing of asymptomatic residents and staff will also be introduced at select homes across Ontario that have seen outbreaks of the virus.

"We are fighting with every single tool that we have, and we're creating new tools, because the old tools were not enough, Fullerton said".

The provincial government is implementing "Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for Long-Term Care Homes".

There is also stepped-up testing for people who live in the same household with health-care workers and first responders.

A Star compilation of reports from Ontario's 34 public health units as of 11 a.m. Thursday showed 470 more people have now contracted the virus, bringing the provincial tally to 9,738 with an additional 44 deaths, raising that total to 469. And while there are now 795 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Ontario - 26 more than on Tuesday - the number of people in intensive care and on ventilators dropped slightly. At least 163 residents have died.

Public health officials announced expanded testing guidelines Thursday including children and the elderly who may show symptoms that have not typically been linked to COVID-19.

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