Ontario expanding PCR testing and antiviral eligibility
Ontario is expanding eligibility for COVID-19 PCR testing and antiviral treatments amid a sixth wave, but the province's top doctor says a broad mask mandate won't be reinstated at this time.
The province says anyone 70 and older, people 60 and older with fewer than three doses of a COVID-19, and people 18 and older with fewer than three vaccine doses and at least one risk factor such as a chronic medical condition can now be tested and assessed for treatment.
Since January, the guidelines for access to the antiviral treatment Paxlovid, and as a result PCR testing, has been limited to immunocompromised adults, unvaccinated people aged 60 and over, and unvaccinated people aged 50 and over if they are First Nation, Inuit or Metis individuals or have one or more risk factors.
Chief medical officer of health Dr. Kieran Moore says COVID-19 trends are rising and it's clear Ontario is in a sixth wave driven by the BA.2 variant, and he says that will likely continue for several more weeks.
Moore says he will not be bringing back mandatory masking right now, though Ontarians should be prepared for that to return if a new variant of concern emerges, if the health-care system is threatened due to rising cases, and potentially during the winter months.
Moore says he strongly recommends people continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces.