Ontario to test asymptomatic students and teachers in Ottawa for COVID-19
OTTAWA -- Ottawa students and teachers not showing symptoms of COVID-19 will soon be able to volunteer for a COVID-19 test.
Ontario has announced "targeted voluntary testing" of asymptomatic students and staff in Ottawa and other regions of Ontario which currently have a high number of active cases of COVID-19.
It will provide voluntary testing for students if they receive consent from a parent or guardian.
The government says the initiative will make it easier to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools and inform public health decisions to manage outbreaks.
"Testing will take place for four weeks and will focus mainly on asymptomatic students," said a statement on the Ontario Government's website.
"The location and method for testing will vary between regions and cities."
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said Ottawa Public Health has been speaking with school boards about voluntary testing.
"I think the idea is that when we have a school where there is a greater number of higher risk contacts, so somebody has tested positive and we're seeing a lot of high risk contacts maybe spread out across a number of classes or grades, then those are the situations where we're interested bringing support into the school community," said Dr. Etches.
"Making sure that testing is more accessible close to the school."
Dr. Etches did not have the names of the schools where testing could take place.
In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, the Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce said school-based testing would be considered at schools where individuals have tested positive and there's a number of close contacts recommended to seek testing.
"While Ottawa has recently seen stabilizing or lowering COVID-19 indicators, the taskforce and its partners continue to seek opportunities to leverage testing capacity and break chains of virus transmission, especially in priority settings in our community such as schools, (long-term care homes), etc.," said the taskforce.
"Our goal is to make it easier to get tested by providing the testing at or near the school. The focus is on individuals without symptoms, and symptomatic individuals are asked to seek testing from regional assessment centres or care clinics."
Further information on testing at schools will be sent to parents, students and school staff.
The Ministry of Education is working with participating school boards and local public health units to support testing asymptomatic students and staff.
Ontario will also provide voluntary COVID-19 testing at schools in Toronto, Peel and York Regions.