Ontario is closely monitoring COVID-19 testing wait times and could open up more assessment centres this fall if necessary, the province’s top doctor said Friday.
Speaking with reporters, Dr. Kieran Moore said he is "very concerned" that people who develop symptoms should have quick access to testing.
“We're monitoring the time to get an appointment, the time from the appointment to a test, the time from a test to public health hands,” Moore said. “All of that is essential if we're going to be able to continue to keep COVID under control across Ontario. And if we need to increase the number of assessment centres, we will.”
Long wait times have already been reported at a number of testing centres in the province.
Moore said the province is working to address those wait times, that Ontario Health is monitoring the situation “very closely” and that it is discussed “almost on a daily basis.”
COLD OR COVID?
Testing is expected to become more important as cold and flu season begins in the next few weeks and lasts into April.
Moore acknowledged Friday that many cold and flu symptoms overlap with COVID symptoms and there is no quick and apparent way to know whether you have one or the other.
“I would just caution everyone if you get the typical symptoms of flu or COVID, that you should stay home.” Moore said. “You should get tested. Even if vaccinated, get tested because there is a risk that you're carrying that virus, and that you'd be infectious to others.”
Flu cases plummeted last season as Ontario spent much of fall and winter in various stages of lockdown, the same measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also preventing the spread of viruses that cause cold and flu symptoms.
While some measures such as distancing, handwashing and masking remain in place, it is not yet clear to what extent cold and flu will be a factor this season.
“We all have to be cautious,” Moore said. “Any new symptoms consistent with COVID, we should stop what we're doing, stay home, not put anyone else at risk and get tested, especially if you work in a setting where you care for vulnerable people like in the hospital, long term care, or any other home setting.”
Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam also spoke with reporters in a separate news conference on Friday and said the public needs to remain vigilant as people start spending more time indoors going into the fall.