Premier Doug Ford is urging Ontarians to “go get a test” to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.
Ford said even if “you’re not showing symptoms” you can now go to an assessment centre and request a test.
“Let me reassure you, even if you or your family do not have symptoms, if you feel you need a test, you will be able to get a test,” said Ford. “So please, don’t wait.”
The messaging is a marked change from earlier Ministry of Health guidelines for the general public, which said that only people displaying one or more symptoms of the novel coronavirus should be tested.
The premier added that the province will unveil a new targeted testing strategy next week that will focus on various sectors and so-called hot spots – something that epidemiologists have been calling for for weeks.
Ford has publicly expressed frustration with the relatively low testing levels in Ontario.
On Friday, he said Ontario would begin testing asymptomatic front-line healthcare workers starting this weekend and doing a second round of COVID-19 testing in long-term care homes.
Ontario’s testing levels have dropped sharply following a blitz of nearly every long-term care resident and staff member was completed.
Recent coronavirus case reports show testing well below the province’s capacity of 21,000. On Sunday, just over 11,000 tests were completed in the previous 24 hour period – the seventh straight day the province has failed to reach previous targets of 16,000 tests.
Ford also expressed dismay at the large crowds seen at Trinity Bellwoods park in Toronto on Saturday.
“I thought it was a rock concert at the beginning, I was absolutely shocked,” said Ford.
“My friends, I get it. It’s a beautiful day out, everyone wants to get out and have a great time. I fully understand. But the images I saw, we just can’t have that right now. It’s just too many people, too close.”
Toronto bylaw officers and police are expected to ramp up enforcement of social distancing protocols at the popular park on Sunday.
“There is still a deadly virus among us. And if we allow it, it will spread. It will spread like wildfire,” cautioned Ford.
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report