Hajdu says some provinces ‘have chosen to decline’ federal government guidelines on COVID-19 testing

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TORONTO – Health Minister Patty Hajdu defends the federal government’s national testing strategy as an essential tool in the fight against COVID-19, but says some provinces have chosen to ignore this direction because of many Canadians who want to get tested are simply unable to do so. “I think what Canadians may be wondering is when was the last time they came to the federal government for a test or a medical procedure? Never, ”Hajdu told CTV’s Power Play Friday.

Hajdu said provinces and territories have the jurisdiction to provide health care and the federal government has provided both money and national advice on a testing strategy.

“Some provinces have chosen to deny that, even though they were involved in the creation of these councils, they chose to take a different path,” she said.

The federal government continues to advise anyone who thinks they have COVID-19 to contact their local health authority about testing.

Hajdu did not identify the provinces she was referring to. But several provinces have limited testing to only people with symptoms of COVID-19, and asymptomatic people who need a test to return to work or school have not been able to get one.

“Some provinces have not had the same struggles as other provinces,” Hajdu said.

In September, Ontario changed its guidelines for COVID-19 testing so that assessment centers will resume testing only symptomatic people, those who have been in contact with a case, and those working in high-pressure settings. risk. Ontarians without symptoms can still get tested at 60 pharmacies across the province, which schedule appointments.

Ontario’s decision was a sharp change from its previous message that anyone who wanted a test could get one.

The about-face met with a mixed reaction from health experts. Some said the move was in line with the latest science, while others saw the move as the province’s latest mistake in its handling of the pandemic.

In Quebec, which has borne the brunt of the workload in Canada, people with symptoms, people who have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 or people who have been contacted by a health authority public are required to be tested.

In British Columbia, people without symptoms “usually” do not have access to testing, including routine tests for employment or school.

Hajdu also responded to a suggestion by US President Donald Trump earlier this week during the presidential debate that a COVID-19 vaccine was imminent. She says she can “see a light at the end of the vaccine tunnel” but declined to commit to a timeline, saying it depended on scientists.

“The challenge is that it is based on science and research,” Hajdu said.

“There are some very optimistic people who believe that we may have a vaccine of one variety or another in the first quarter of 2021. But I will just say this: In Canada, we will ensure that any vaccine approved. by Health Canada is passed. the rigors Canadians expect when it comes to security.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise, with the second wave overtaking the first wave. On Friday, 2,588 more people tested positive for the virus.

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