Windsor's top doc 'reluctant' on mass COVID-19 testing as province looks to provide kits to schools

·2 min read
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 70 COVID-19 cases since Friday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)
The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is reporting 70 COVID-19 cases since Friday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press - image credit)

The acting medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex said he's "reluctant" to recommend mass COVID-19 testing in situations where there's little likelihood of finding cases.

Dr. Shanker Nesathurai was reacting Monday to news that the province intends to provide take-home tests to schools starting later this month.

Nesathurai said he's not ruling out any options to manage COVID-19, but due to the risk of false positives, he wouldn't recommend mass testing unless there is a public health benefit.

"When you're testing a population or a community of people you have to consider what the consequences of a true positive and a false positive are and how you're going to manage both of those," he said during a virtual media briefing on Monday.

The announcement was made by education minister Stephen Lecce on Thursday. The government said the tests can be used by students and staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 or by anyone in the school system considered to be a high-risk contact of a confirmed case.

The idea behind offering these as take-home tests is to make it easier on families than booking a testing appointment at a COVID-19 assessment centre, a senior government official said.

The tests being provided will be polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, which are more accurate than rapid antigen tests.

WECHU CEO Nicole Dupuis could not provide details on what a potential rollout of the tests could look like locally, saying that the health unit has yet to review the announcement.

"It does require some discussion and review with our school boards and within our local context," she said.

Meanwhile, the health unit is reporting a three-day increase of 70 new COVID-19 cases. Of those, 18 were reported Saturday, 31 were reported Sunday and 21 were reported Monday.

There are 195 active cases as of Monday, and 14 people are in hospital.

Nine outbreaks are active in the region, including seven in workplaces and community settings:

  • One in the health care and social assistance sector.

  • Two in congregate settings.

  • One in retail.

  • One in fitness and recreation.

  • One in a transportation setting.

  • One in a correctional facility.

Outbreaks are also affecting two schools.

  • Tecumseh Vista Academy.

  • Princess Elizabeth Public School.

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