As COVID-19 cases rise in Windsor-Essex, so do calls for more rapid testing
With a recent spike in local COVID-19 cases and further restrictions looming, a call to instead contain the spread of the virus through testing is gaining traction.
“It’s elementary schools that are really increasing case numbers in Ontario and definitely throughout Windsor,” said biostatistician Ryan Imgrund.
Imgrund who has been tracking COVID-19 numbers feels the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is overreacting by introducing the stricter measures heading into the holidays.
“When you simply respond to raw numbers and you don’t respond to rates there’s a really big problem in a situation like that,” he said.
Imgrund said Windsor’s positivity rate of around six per cent tells him there is a shortfall in contact tracing.
“The reason you don’t do proper contact tracing is you’re not finding cases in time and the best way to find cases in time is through rapid testing,” he said.
Med Labs Windsor vice president Jennifer Yee said antigen testing is more of a surveillance tool used over a period of a few days.
A kit she showed CTV News has five tests, each giving results quickly.
“I think having people testing at home before they go into the school or the workplace is an excellent tool to keep the school safe and family safe,” Yee said.
The Ontario government purchased 11 million kits for students to bring home during the holidays, with more given out to businesses.
Premier Doug Ford said the province has given out 33 million kits.
However, many are calling for testing to be easily accessible for the general public. Currently, testing is limited to those with symptoms, close contacts, or expensive tests for travel.
Windsor Regional Hospital introduced surveillance antigen testing last summer and CEO David Musyj said the initiative has turned up some positive cases among staff.
“Which has then resulted in the child not returning to school, and possibly spreading it,” he said. “The staff member coming to work and spreading it or their partner in their home doing the same and going to work and spreading it,” Musyj said.
He said antigen testing isn’t the final answer to eradicating the pandemic, but it is a piece of the puzzle the hospital supports.
“When you keep adding layer after layer and part of it is antigen testing it will, it’ll stop number one, possibly catching COVID and number two, definitely spreading COVID and that’s the goal here,” Musyj said.