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.
The most aggressive tests will take place in hot spots, including northeast of Montreal, and will also include places where deconfinement is expected to begin, including schools, daycares and manufacturing plants. 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.
To date, 27,538 people have tested positive for the virus and 1,859 people have died.
WATCH THE LIVE PRESS CONFERENCE NOW
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.
Prime Minister François Legault said during the province’s COVID-19 briefing on Thursday that the province would step up testing – it tests about 6,000 people a day – to 14,500 a day next week.
Some 220,000 tests have been carried out in the province since the start of the pandemic.
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.