Just under 4,700 COVID-19 tests conducted at Ontario pharmacies in first five days of program

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Just under 4,700 COVID-19 tests were conducted at Ontario pharmacies over five days once the program began, according to the Ministry of Health. 

Between last Friday and this past Wednesday, 4,697 tests were performed at 60 pharmacies, in an effort to ease lineups at assessment centres, specifically in Toronto, Peel Region and Ottawa. 

However, here isn't data available on the minimum or maximum testing capacity from one location to another. 

This would include for example, what the number of tests is for the pharmacy taking the lowest number of samples vs. the highest. 

"As this program is just rolling out, the Ministry does not collect data regarding the pharmacy program in this amount of detail," a ministry statement said. 

University of Toronto infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch says it's unclear if we can consider this a success, but there's still a positive. 

"This program is just starting off," he said. "When you hear that there's over 4,000 people going to the pharmacy to get tested, that's over 4,000 fewer people that aren't lining up at diagnostic testing centres throughout Ontario, so there is some incremental benefit." 

"Hopefully, more people who truly don't have more symptoms can use the pharmacies." 

As of Friday, the testing backlog in Ontario hit over 90,000, although samples collected at pharmacies go to a separate lab. 

"The processing of which are at various stages of completion," the statement said. 

The provincial health table said last week that it expected another 18 pharmacies to come online this week. 

Over 40,000 tests were completed a day ago, as the province reported a new record for daily new cases at 732. 

The government's goal is to get to 50,000, with a surge capacity potential of 78,000.