Ontario Independent

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ontario will continue to administer rapid tests until July

Rapid tests will be given out in Ontario until July

Key Takeaways:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is in its sixth wave, according to the head of the Ontario Science Advisory Table.
  • The announcement comes as opposition politicians call on the Conservative government to expand the availability of PCR tests for the virus.
  • As public health measures are lifted, health officials urge people to continue wearing masks.

According to the head of the Ontario Science Advisory Table, the province is amidst a sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic; the Ford government will continue to offer free rapid antigen tests until at least the end of July.

Minister of Health Christine Elliott’s press secretary, Alexandra Hilkene, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the province will make tests available at grocery stores, pharmacies, workplaces, schools, hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, as well as other congregate settings until at least July 31.

“In the highest-risk sectors, the province will continue to provide free rapid antigen tests for asymptomatic screening,” she added.

The province announced in February that it would distribute 5.5 million rapid tests each week for eight weeks.

Also read: Ontario is raising the tax on foreign homebuyers while also expanding it throughout the province

The announcement comes as opposition politicians call on the Conservative government to make PCR tests for the virus more widely available.

Critics have pushed Ontario to reintroduce broad access to the gold-standard tests, which have been constrained to certain high-risk groups since December when the Omicron variant overtaxed resources.

According to Elliott’s office, PCR testing “continues to be readily available for those living and working in the highest-risk settings,” which says the calls have increased since Wednesday.

‘It’s a significant increase.’

The announcement comes as Dr. Peter Jüni, chair of the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, says the province has seen the impact of recent public health measures, such as lifting mask mandates in most settings and eliminating gathering limits.

“Whatever we call it, we’re in the middle of it. It’s either the expected resurgence following the last wave’s reopening, or you can call it the sixth wave, “Jüni told CBC News on Wednesday morning.

Jüni went on to say that Ontario sees “quite a steep increase” in wastewater, which he says is usually accompanied by an increase in hospital occupancy.

Rapid tests will be given out in Ontario until July
Rapid tests will be given out in Ontario until July. Image from CBC News

On Wednesday, 778 people in Ontario were hospitalized with COVID-19. Health officials urge people to keep wearing masks as the province sees a rise in hospital occupancy as public health measures are lifted.

With the measures lifted, experts predicted increased cases and hospitalizations but urged Ontarians to remain cautious and wear a mask in crowded indoor environments.

According to Jüni, the science table’s most recent projections, which predicted an increase in hospital occupancy, will need to be re-evaluated in light of health experts’ behavior. Those predictions increased hospitalizations, though not as high as the pandemic’s Omicron wave peak.

Source: CTV news

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