‘We have to focus on people who need the test’ says Ford as province limits who can go to assessment centres

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The province is now asking people not to get tested for COVID-19 unless they have symptoms.

That’s an about face from this summer, when Premier Doug Ford said everyone who wanted a test should be tested.

Today, public health officials said you should only go to an assessment centre if you are showing COVID-19 symptoms, have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus or if you use the COVID-19 Alert app and it says you may be have been exposed, if you were exposed at work – according to the local public health unit – or if you’re a health care worker or have been directed to buy the Ministry of Long Term Care.

Ford says in a four-hour call last night, public health officials convinced him right now, testing has to be limited.

“I’m told that in close to 70 and sometimes 80 per cent of the cases, they have no symptoms at all; they’re anxious…there are different groups; people who want a tests…or people who need the test. We have to focus on people who need the test.”

That includes school children requiring a test to return to school.

Ford says the province will put $1 billion into testing and contract tracing, including hiring 500 more people to trace contacts and another 500 will be hired in the near future.

Ford says the province is also working to ramp up testing labs. Today, almost 59,000 people are waiting to hear the results of their tests.

Ford says the province has been seeking out private labs to help. He didn’t rule out sending the tests to the US for analysis.

Starting Friday, 60 pharmacies, most in the GTA, are offering COVID-19 tests. Health care workers and people from long term care will be directed to those sites.