THUNDER BAY - The provincial government is taking new steps to expand COVID-19 testing in Ontario, but Northern Ontario is not included in the first phase.
On Wednesday, Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott announced 60 pharmacies across the province will offer by-appointment COVID-19 testing starting Friday.
“Expanding testing to pharmacies is part of our plan to ensure we are ready for future waves of COVID-19,” Elliott said during the daily media briefing on Wednesday.
“With a recent increase in the number of cases, we are making sure people have more options for testing to identify cases of COVID-19 early. We must not let our guard down. Our best defense is still to follow all public health measures like practising physical distancing, wearing face masks and staying home when ill, so we can stop the spread of COVID-19."
The 60 pharmacies to offer COVID-19 tests are located in Southern Ontario, with no locations identified in Northern Ontario.
The provincial government said further locations will come online in the coming weeks, but did not provide any specific timelines.
Testing at pharmacies will be available to people showing no COVID-19 symptoms and individuals will be pre-screened before being permitted to come for a test.
"We rely on our pharmacists for our flu shots, prescriptions, and important health advice for ourselves and our families. It makes sense to engage them as key partners in delivering more COVID-19 testing," said Premier Doug Ford.
"I have to thank Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, and the independent pharmacies who have stepped up in a big way to help expand testing to more people in the province. With everyone pitching in, we are well on our way to reaching our goal of 50,000 tests a day and stopping the spread of COVID-19."