Coronavirus testing will be expanded after shortfalls revealed: provinces

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The shortcomings of Canada’s COVID-19 testing strategy came to the fore Wednesday as Ontario’s premier admitted to “unacceptable” testing rates, Quebec promised to aggressively root out infections in long-term care homes and Nova Scotia expanded its eligibility criteria, vowing to test anyone with so much as a runny nose and sore throat.

Provincial leaders declared they will expand their testing rules as cases and deaths continued to rise and questions persisted about the true extent of community spread.

Meanwhile, critics pointed to a mish-mash of surveillance strategies that can vary widely even within provinces and communities, making it hard to build a true picture of just how pervasive COVID-19 really is.

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Dr. Camille Lemieux, chief of family medicine at the University Health Network, expressed frustration Wednesday over revelations Ontario has been sending roughly 3,500 tests a day to its labs of late, even though they can accommodate 13,000.

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Although community assessment centres are told to use their clinical judgment to administer COVID-19 tests, she says staff are also told to adhere to provincial criteria that is being applied inconsistently from centre to centre.

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