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Reserving COVID-19 testing for high risk cases could complicate fight to stop disease’s spread, experts say (Dr. Peter Phillips, SPH)

People walk towards a Covid-19 Assessment Centre at Michael Garron Hospital, in Toronto, on March 15, 2020. (Photo credit: The Globe and Mail)

The move by more provinces to reserve COVID-19 testing for the highest risk cases, such as people with severe illness or health-care workers, could complicate Canada’s fight to stop the spread of the disease here, according to some infectious-disease experts. If health officials aren’t going to do broad testing, they say, then the country needs to get more serious about ensuring people self-isolate and avoid others in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus.

Until now, Canada has focused most of its testing on individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever and cough, who travelled out of the country or who were close contacts of those who tested positive. This weekend, however, British Columbia and Ontario officials said they were narrowing testing to a more select group, including people sick enough to require hospitalization, long-term care residents, health-care workers or people who live on a First Nations reserve. Public Health Ontario said on its website part of the reason for the shift is to ensure there is no shortage of test kits.

Peter Phillips, an infectious-diseases physician at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver and a clinical professor at the University of British Columbia, said Canada should be testing more people, including those with mild respiratory symptoms who haven’t travelled outside Canada or come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Click here for the full story on The Globe and Mail.

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