Ontario reports 514 more COVID-19 cases today and 9000 tests processed

Ontario reports 514 more COVID-19 cases today and 9000 tests processed

The plan, which Ontario Premier Doug Ford described as "fortifying the ring" around such residences, will include stricter testing and screening measures in homes facing outbreaks as well as ensuring these facilities are always stocked with personal protective equipment. "We have to raise the standards.This is a wake-up call to the world, not just Ontario".

The new guidelines will help Ontario take full advantage of the testing capacity it has built, and will help the province more effectively identify and contain cases among vulnerable populations, said a spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott.

Ontario's emergency order came weeks after British Columbia's, which made the move to limit caregivers from working at multiple long-term care homes after it became clear that outbreaks were linked to employees working at more than one site.

An additional six long-term care facilities reported outbreaks, bringing the total to 104, with 933 cases among residents and 530 cases in staff.

That measure, however, won't take effect until April 22, leading to criticism it is not being put in place quickly enough.

Unions representing health-care workers have long raised the issue, saying staffers often work at multiple facilities because they're unable to get full-time positions.

New testing guidelines issued by the Ontario Ministry of Health stipulate that any nursing home-residents in the same room as a symptomatic patient be tested, along with all residents in adjacent rooms and all staff in the unit, any essential visitors and other contacts as deemed necessary.

Long-Term Care Minister Merrillee Fullerton said it is an interim solution, and that Ontario will work with the federal government to address wages for those workers while they are prevented from working at more than one home.

"This is a bad thing they're experiencing right now", Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday, noting elders need "better protection".

That brings the province to a total of 8,961 cases, including 423 deaths and almost 4,200 cases that have been resolved.

Essential workers, cross-border workers, and people living with health-care workers, care providers and first responders are also now to be tested as soon as possible if they develop symptoms. "Today we're throwing everything we've got at our long-term care homes".

"We owe it to our most vulnerable, we owe it to their families and loved ones, to fight this bad virus until the end", Ford said at the province's daily COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.

The growth in total cases has been relatively low for about a week, and Ontario health officials have said the peak is expected this week. At least 163 residents have died.

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