Lab professionals working 'beyond humanly possible' to process COVID tests in Ontario

·1 min read

The head of an association representing Ontario laboratory workers says its members are putting in long hours and being asked to cancel vacation plans to handle a huge surge in COVID-19 tests.

Michelle Hoad, CEO of the Medical Laboratory Professionals' Association of Ontario, says 70 per cent of labs in the province were already short-staffed when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Since then, Hoad says that many laboratory professionals have opted to retire early or leave their professions entirely due to the pressures they've faced during the pandemic.

Hoad says that has left remaining laboratory assistants and medical laboratory technologists working "beyond humanly possible" to make sure that COVID-19 testing and other diagnostic tests are completed in a timely fashion.

She says the recent surge in tests as the Omicron variant drives a spike in cases has laboratory professionals working more overtime and reporting burnout.

The province's top doctor said Tuesday that Ontario is preparing to change its approach to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing as the Omicron variant strains resources, with residents being warned they could face long waits for tests.

Ottawa Public Health this week asked residents who have symptoms but can't access a timely test to assume they are infected and self-isolate.

Ontario reported 4,383 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, based on 55,381 tests that were processed by laboratories across the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 22, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press

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