'By further strengthening public health and workplace safety measures, we can work to reduce transmission of the virus'
With Ontario implementing another stay-at-home order as the third wave of the pandemic hits, the government is boosting outreach to COVID hot spots when it comes to rapid testing.
The testing is being deployed in workplaces for asymptomatic staff in key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain, mining, construction and food processing, and the process for enrolment in the screening program will be streamlined to allow for quick access to these supports.
Roughly 5.4 million rapid antigen tests have been sent to over 1,150 workplaces, including 100 essential industry sites, under the Provincial Antigen Screening Program.
"While our government took decisive action by implementing the provincewide emergency brake, more needs to be done to protect against the threats to our health system resources and the continued health and safety of individuals and families across the province," says Christine Elliott, deputy premier and minister of health.
"By further strengthening public health and workplace safety measures, we can work to reduce transmission of the virus while we work to rollout Phase 2 of our vaccine distribution plan, and put more needles in the arms of Ontarians."
In March, the province announced it is providing guidance to employees who want to self-swab for a rapid antigen point-of-care test on a voluntary basis under the supervision of a trained individual.
Over the past week, the province’s positivity rate is 5.1 per cent, well above the high-alert threshold of 2.5 per cent, and as of April 6, 2021, were a total of 2,483 cases with one of the three variants of concern (VoC). The percentage of cases in the last week that tested positive for a mutation or VOC was 63.1 per cent.
Meanwhile, health and safety inspectors and provincial offenses officers will increase inspections and enforcement at essential businesses in regional hot zones to keep workers safe.
This year alone, inspectors have held 19,500 COVID-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province. During those visited, they have issued 450 COVID-19 related tickets and more than 14,446 occupational health and safety orders. They have also stopped unsafe work related to COVID-19 a total of 24 times.
Earlier, from Feb. 25 to 28, 110 provincial offences officers conducted more than 1,000 COVID-19 related workplace safety visits in Ontario and found that about 73 per cent of businesses were in compliance with public health measures, and compliance increased by 20 per cent.