Starting next week, all employees and support workers who provide “direct care” at these facilities will need to be tested weekly. Staff at homes in the green and yellow zones will only need a test every two weeks, as per the previous policy.
“By increasing testing in our long-term care homes, we will better protect vulnerable residents as well as the staff who work so hard to keep them safe,” Long-Term Care Minister Dr Merrilee Fullerton said during of this announcement.
The expansion of surveillance testing in long-term care homes comes as the Progressive Conservative government announces that it has received 98,000 new Abott ID Now rapid tests, capable of producing instant results in less than 15 minutes.
Premier Doug Ford said testing will be delivered to “areas of greatest need, such as hot spots and long-term care homes” as well as parts of northern Ontario ” where test turnaround times are a challenge ”.
There are currently 96 active outbreaks in long-term care homes in Ontario. Since the start of the pandemic in March, a total of 2,174 residents of long-term care homes have died after contracting COVID-19.
“It is essential that we stop the drain in long-term care. 100% testing, 100% testing for every staff member, every visitor that goes there, ”Ford said Wednesday. “No more excuses. It does not enter through the ceiling, it does not enter through walls, it enters through visitors and health workers. And by the way, this is not a coup against health workers. They are heroes. But if we don’t lock this 100%, it will continue. If you have a leak in the vessel, you are sealing the leak 100%. “