Ontario to release testing strategy for COVID-19 next week, premier encourages residents to get tested
TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford says his government will release a "detailed testing strategy" for COVID-19 in Ontario next week while encouraging residents to get tested.
"We will be targeting various sectors and hot spots across the province," Ford said at a Sunday morning news conference.
The announcement comes as the number of tests performed in Ontario continues to fall short of its testing capacity.
According to the Ministry of Health, the province performed 11,383 tests on Saturday, a far cry from the government’s goal to complete 16,000 tests daily. The province has previously said that it has the capacity to conduct at least 20,000 tests a day.
On Sunday morning, for the fourth consecutive day, health officials confirmed more than 400 new cases of COVID-19 in Ontario.The province recorded 460 new cases and 25 more deaths related to the novel coronavirus, marking a 1.8 per cent increase over the day prior.
At the same time, Ford urged residents who think they may have COVID-19, even if they are not showing symptoms, to get a test.
"Please go get a test. You will not be turned away," Ford said.
"Let me reassure you, even if you or your family do not have symptoms, if you feel you need a test, you will be able to get a test."
"Our assessment centres are ready to receive you and the only way we can get those testing numbers up, the only way we can get those numbers where they need to be is for everyone who feels they need it to go get tested."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the government to begin "systemic testing" of asymptomatic people outside of assessment centres following Sunday's announcement.
“For weeks, Doug Ford’s restrictive testing rules were turning people away from assessment centres,” Horwath said in a news release.
“He blamed a lack of swabs. Then he blamed a lack of reagent. Then he blamed public health leaders. In all that time, he hasn’t expanded testing, or taken it outside the existing assessment centres."
'Absolutely shocked': Ford reacts to crowds at Trinity Bellwoods Park
Ford also commented on the scene at a popular Toronto park Saturday where thousands of people appeared to be ignoring physical distancing rules and disobeying the province’s emergency order banning gatherings of more than five people.
"My friends, I get it, it was a beautiful day and we opened parks so people could get out there and enjoy the weather. But the images I saw, we just can’t have that right now because there is still a deadly virus among us."
"I was absolutely shocked."
An estimated 10,000 people packed into Trinity Bellwoods Park Saturday. Police are expected to return to the park today to prevent more large crowds from gathering.
With files from Codi Wilson.