Ontario is spending another $1.07-billion on COVID-19 contact tracing and testing.

The funding will help to expand efforts to test, trace, and isolate new cases of COVID-19.  Premier Doug Ford made the announcement today, “We’ve put over $1 billion on the table to help track, trace, and isolate cases of COVID-19 through the largest and most robust pandemic testing initiative in the country.  By ramping up our daily testing capacity to 50,000 tests and closely monitoring our long-term care homes and schools, we can quickly respond to any outbreaks and surges and stop the spread of this deadly virus in its tracks.”  Ford says another 500 contact tracers will be hired.  Today’s funding includes the $70-million already announced for influenza vaccines.

Ford once again called on Health Canada to work faster to approve rapid testing, “Unless we get rapid tests the health experts told us we need to prioritize those who need a test.”  He says approval of rapid testing will be a “game-changer” for the entire country.

This spending comes only an hour after the province’s health experts said that only people showing symptoms or those who have been in contact with a positive case should go to assessment centres to get tested.  Asymptomatic people are being encouraged to go to select pharmacies across Ontario to be tested.

Assessment centres have struggled with long lines as the number of new COVID-19 cases continues to grow.

The province says the new testing guidelines will help to shrink the backlog of 50,00 tests awaiting processing and ensures people who need tests the most, including people working and living in long-term care homes, school children and staff, and those working where an outbreak has been identified.