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Trudeau pledges help to increase COVID-19 testing in Ontario and Quebec

Last Updated May 21, 2020 at 11:13 am PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Thursday, May 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Summary

Trudeau speaking with the premiers today about how Ottawa can help provinces massively scale up their COVID-19 testing

Goal is to fend off a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresda Tam says the country also needs to ramp up supplies of PPE

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will be speaking with the premiers today about how Ottawa can help provinces massively scale up their COVID-19 testing capacity to fend off a potential second wave of the novel coronavirus.

He says testing needs to increase immediately in Ontario and Quebec, where the economies are starting to reopen, but the number of new COVID-19 cases remains high.

Trudeau first offered provinces a national framework on testing and contact tracing last week.

The federal government is working with provinces to increase testing and contact tracing in preparations of a possible second wave of COVID-19.

“To support them in massively scaling up testing capacity and contact racing capacity,” he says.

“But also, make sure that, as we move forward through the summer and into the fall, we are ready to act extremely quickly so that the population at large won’t be in situations of having to go back into confinement.”

Trudeau says he’s received positive responses from across Canada so far and is set to further discuss the offer during his weekly call with provincial and territorial premiers today.

Even in areas with a low number of new cases, Trudeau says governments need to be able to instantly increase their testing capacity to detect and control new flare-ups.

He says he doesn’t want logistics or finances to get in the way of doing the testing or contact tracing needed to keep the pandemic under control.

In Ontario, the province’s goal is 16,000 tests a day. However, data showed fewer than 10,000 tests were processed on four consecutive days this week.

Ontario completed 10,506 tests on Wednesday.

Premier Doug Ford then promised an increase in testing over the next few weeks.

Ford added he won’t hesitate to roll back recovery measures if there’s a surge in new cases.

On Thursday, Ontario confirmed 413 new cases of novel coronavirus. There were 390 cases reported Wednesday.

Another 31 people have died there due to the virus, bringing the total death count in Ontario to 1,993.

Saskatchewan has one of most aggressive testing approaches in Canada, with anyone returning to work outside home able to get tested, starting next week.

In Alberta, asymptomatic people in Calgary can get tested. So far, 100 of more than 3,400 asymptomatic people there have tested positive.

In B.C., anyone can get tested for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresda Tam says the country also needs to ramp up supplies of PPE and medical equipment, but most importantly, Canadians can’t get complacent with the warmer weather.