Health authorities prepare to ramp up COVID-19 lab testing


Health authorities are working to ramp up Canada's capacity to conduct laboratory testing for the novel coronavirus.

When infections first began to appear in Canada in January, all provinces had to send presumed COVID-19 test samples to the National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg for confirmation.

As their procedures evolved, public health labs in Ontario and British Columbia, where most of the country's 33 cases are concentrated, stopped sending samples to Winnipeg.

The chief of medical microbiology at Public Health Ontario Laboratory says diagnostic tests have become faster and more sensitive since the outbreak first started.

Vanessa Allen says the next step is to help hospitals develop the capacity to conduct their own tests, a goal echoed by Canada's chief public health officer.

Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto General Hospital, says Canada's response to the virus ``hinges'' on its ability to gather information through testing.