Health Minister Christine Elliott says that there are plans to increase pop-up and mobile testing in several Toronto and Peel Region neighbourhoods where there has been a noticeable drop in numbers since the province switched to an appointment-only system earlier this month.
Elliott made the comment to reporters during a briefing on Tuesday afternoon, just hours after the province reported another 827 new cases of COVID-19 on just 23,900 tests.
The testing number represented roughly half of Ontario’s peak capacity and a reduction of more than 4,000 fewer tests from one day prior.
“We know that since we have moved into testing by appointment only there are some people who are not coming in for testing so we need to go to them,” Elliott said. “While we have permanent sites we also have mobile sites as well because we don’t want anybody who needs to be tested to go without a test.”
The province reported 851 new cases on Monday, a record-setting 1,042 on Sunday and 978 on Saturday.
The latest numbers reported on Tuesday generated a test positivity rate of 3.46 per cent.
The positivity rate hovered in the low to mid two per cent range on several previous days.
Ontario moved to appointment-only testing in early October, and barred anyone without symptoms from seeking testing outside of a pharmacy back in September.
Earlier on Tuesday, Ministry of Health officials told CP24 that Tuesdays typically represent the lowest day of the week in terms of output, as the data disclosed then represents samples collected on Sunday and processed in laboratories on Monday.
Elliot, however, did concede that there are some areas where the province needs to “amplify” its testing abilities.
“We have identified some neighbourhoods in Toronto and Peel Region as well where we need to go with pop-up test centres or mobile test centres to encourage people to come out and be tested,” she said.
Elliott said 691 people recovered from infection on Tuesday, meaning the number of active infections increased by 132.
There are now 7,418 active cases of novel coronavirus infection in the province, up from 6,237 one week ago.
A total of 3,103 people have died of infection since March. In the past week, 50 people have died, according to Public Health Ontario.
Three of the four new deaths reported on Tuesday were resident of long-term care homes.
One of the four deaths involved someone between the age of 20 and 39.
Elsewhere in the GTA, 44 cases were reported in Durham Region, 14 were reported in Hamilton and 10 were reported in Halton Region.
The province says 312 people hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms across Ontario, but a count of data from local public health units and hospital networks found that 348 people were in hospital for COVID-19 treatment on Tuesday, up from 335 on Monday.
Of those, at least 75 are in intensive care and 52 are breathing with the help of a ventilator.