Today the Ontario government announced the next phase of its COVID-19 testing strategy. The details of this plan can be found in Protecting Ontarians Through Enhanced Testing. The testing strategy will focus on three branches of testing:
1. Assessment Centre Testing: Expanding who can be tested at these centres.
a. Symptomatic testing will continue.
b. Asymptomatic, risk-based testing for individuals who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19.
c. Asymptomatic, risk-based testing for individuals who are at risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their employment, including essential workers (e.g., health care workers, grocery store employees).
2. Targeted Testing Campaigns: Proactively conduct testing of asymptomatic vulnerable populations including long-term care homes and other shared living spaces like shelters and group homes, as well as targeted testing of workplaces in key sectors such as auto manufacturers, agri-food, retail and trucking.
3. Outbreak Management: Focused testing to ensure rapid and agile response capacity when an outbreak is declared. Outbreaks can be declared in a specific neighbourhood, a region, a workplace, and an institution such as hospital, long-term care home and educational setting. Response may use mobile testing units.
Testing of symptomatic individuals and proactive testing is essential to understand and follow transmission. It will allow the government to better identify, contain and monitor the spread of COVID-19. This information will allow the government to make more informed decisions.
With this increased testing and greater understanding of regional data, the government also announced that it will consider a regional approached for a staged-reopening as one option for Phase 2.