Canada needs to ‘test smartly’ to survive second wave of coronavirus, Tam says

Canada will need to “test smartly” if the country hopes to successfully navigate its way through a second wave of the novel coronavirus, Canada’s chief public health officer said Monday.

In a joint press conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters broadening pandemic preparedness and effective communication at provincial and municipal levels would be “critical” in the coming weeks as health officials work to bring rapidly accelerating case numbers back under control.

“We have to test smartly, obviously making sure right now if there is congestion, et cetera, that those with symptoms or those who have a risk of exposure be the ones lining up and not just (those who are) worried,” she said.

“People who haven’t had any exposure or risk may want to stay at home and just look at what happens to their symptoms before consulting with public health about appointments.”

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Messaging on testing has changed repeatedly in different parts of Canada, with provinces flip-flopping on whether or not residents who are asymptomatic should be getting tested, along with massive backlogs as cases swell.

Tam said 80 per cent of the country’s cases of the virus were coming from Quebec and Ontario.

On Friday, Ontario announced it would be shifting to an appointment-based testing system and subsequently closing walk-in testing centres across the province, making it harder for people to get tested.

More to come. 

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