Confusion abounds in these uncertain times about what we can do, where we can go and who we can see as the coronavirus pandemic rages on — but Ontario’s government wants to make it clear that anyone can now get tested for COVID-19 if they’re experiencing symptoms.
You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, though. A lot of people still believe that they shouldn’t visit testing centres at all unless they’ve got explicit orders to do so from their family doctor or a hospital.
This is likely due to the province announcing very publicly (and repeatedly) in March that tests were reserved only for select, highly-vulnerable groups (such as the the elderly and frontline workers with symptoms) due to a shortage in testing kits.
In early April, Ontario’s COVID-19 assessment centres were actually said to be refusing about 25 per cent of all people. Many shared stories online about being told they wouldn’t be tested despite showing severe symptoms, having a recent history of travel, or even after being exposed to an infected contact.
With the kit shortage long resolved and testing capacity ramped up (at least prior to this week) provincial health officials have done an about-face and are now asking anyone and everyone who is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to be tested immediately.
“We have a strategy and we’re moving forward with that strategy to make sure we get as many people tested as possible,” said Premier Doug Ford during his regular media availability Friday afternoon when asked about the common misperception that getting tested is quite difficult.
“We encourage people, if you have symptoms, go to the assessment centres,” continued Ford, noting that there are 144 of them across the province.
“Go and get tested, we encourage it. No one’s going to be refused. Please go there.”
Ford lamented that he sees no lineups outside the assessment centre he drives by every morning on his way to work, and once again implored residents with symptoms to “please go out and get tested.”
With plans for random, asymptomatic community testing set to be released next week, it might not be long before assessment centres start coming to us anyway.