Ontario will bring COVID-19 testing to shopping malls and other busy locations for the upcoming Christmas season as part of a broader effort to more closely monitor the virus during the winter months.
The mobile teams will offer tests to people who do not experience symptoms from mid-December to early January in areas with higher rates of infection and hospitalization and lower levels of vaccination, authorities said in a briefing Thursday.
The move is in addition to providing testing at select pharmacies to people experiencing COVID symptoms, a plan that has raised safety concerns, as Star reported this week. Schoolchildren will also be sent home with tests to take over the Christmas break.
The tests in the shopping centers will be voluntary and aim to obtain samples from a combination of vaccinated and unvaccinated at a time of year when more social activities are carried out and the risk of transmission is higher, authorities said.
“Anyone without symptoms will be able to get tested quickly and easily as part of this limited-time program,” according to informational materials released to the media ahead of a press conference by Medical Director Dr. Kieran Moore. .
“Trial options may vary by location.”
The mobile teams will not be in places like sports stadiums where proof of vaccination is required to enter, authorities said.
Details on the test sites will be announced in the coming weeks.
Testing of people with symptoms in pharmacies has raised concerns since details were first leaked on Tuesday, with some health experts saying it could lead to further spread of the virus unless strict separation, prevention measures are put in place. infection and control.
That pharmacy trial began Thursday at about 200 pharmacies and could grow to 1,300, depending on how many pharmacies decide to participate.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION