The province has appointed Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill as one of several dedicated COVID-19 testing centres in the GTA in a bid to prevent further spread of the virus and ease the burden on emergency departments at other local hospitals.
The dedicated assessment centres are in areas experiencing significant growth in testing, including Mackenzie Health, William Osler Health System-Peel Memorial, North York General Hospital, Scarborough Health Network, Trillium Health Partners and Ottawa Hospital.
The assessment centres, which are located in dedicated spaces to protect other hospital patients and visitors, are intended to rapidly expand screening for coronavirus and will open in the "next several days," the province said in a news release.
Of the eight positive cases of COVID-19 in York Region, five are in Richmond Hill, one in Newmarket, one in Vaughan and one in Markham. All the cases are travel-related and the individuals are currently self-isolating.
Additional assessment centres will be established across the province in the coming weeks. Regions without assessment centres will continue to be serviced by their local hospital or primary care settings.
Last week, Ontario established a Command Table to coordinate its response to the global health crisis.
"Ontario's public health system continues to demonstrate remarkable responsiveness to COVID-19," said Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health. "While we have so far effectively contained new cases of this virus, we are relentlessly focused on planning for any scenario. We are actively working with our partners at all levels in the health care system to implement enhanced measures to ensure that we are prepared to protect the health of all Ontarians."
The province will also be launching a self-assessment tool on its dedicated web page, which will pose a series of questions to help inform those who are concerned about having contracted COVID-19 and direct them how to seek care if necessary.
Additional measures include a new physician billing code for telephone assessments, so doctors can conduct assessments over the phone rather than in their clinics, helping to keep patients at home rather than potentially exposing others to the virus. As well, the Command Table is exploring the implementation of at-home testing.
You'll also likely notice a new public education advertising campaign on search, social, print and radio, with updates and information on "every-day steps Ontarians can take to keep themselves safe," according to the news release.
In addition to the up-to-$100 million COVID-19 contingency fund announced yesterday, the province is extending one-time mitigation funding of 10 per cent of municipal funding for an additional calendar year for public health units.
For tips on preventing COVID-19, and more information provided by York Region public health, click here.