The Quebec government will quickly start increasing the number of tests to 14,000 per day as it prepares to gradually reopen schools and workplaces in the province.
There are currently approximately 7,000 tests a day in the province, and these tests have so far focused on symptomatic cases and those in the health system.
Horacio Arruda, director of public health for Quebec, and his assistant, Yves Jalbert, made the announcement during a press conference in Quebec City on Friday afternoon, setting out what they call their “population diagnostic plan” ” They say they aim to reach 14,000 daily tests by Friday next week.
“We now have the capacity that we did not have a few weeks ago,” said Jalbert.
The most aggressive tests will take place in hot spots, including northeast of Montreal and especially Montreal-North, where there has been an outbreak.
Places where deconfinement is expected to begin in the coming weeks, including schools, daycares and manufacturing plants, will also be easily tested, but the focus will be on those who are symptomatic. The government will continue to test essential workers such as firefighters and health care workers.
Starting on Monday, people with symptoms will be able to call a phone line (which will be released soon) and those people will be directed to a designated screening center or clinic.
Arruda said that increased testing would translate into more confirmed cases – that is hope and expectation – and that this was the key to moving up the chain of transmission to limit the spread of the virus.
The multiplication of tests allows public health officials to better understand transmission in communities.
“What’s going on in Montreal-North right now? What is the dynamics of transmission? How do we control it to prevent it from spreading to other regions? ” he said.
To date, 28,648 people have tested positive for the virus and 2,020 people have died. Some 220,000 tests have been carried out in the province since the start of the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Quebec announced that its schools and businesses would start reopening later this month, and health officials have repeatedly said that increased testing is key to making the reopening a reality. safe and healthy.
Aside from Friday’s test press conference, the Quebec government will not hold its daily COVID-19 briefing; Legault said on Thursday that the information sessions will now only take place three times a week. The next is expected Monday.
This is a developing story that will be updated.