When will Waterloo Region test asymptomatic people? Not until the province says so: public health

The number of daily COVID-19 tests appears to be dropping in Waterloo Region now that testing at long-term care home and retirement homes has been completed.

A week after testing was opened up to anyone with symptoms of the virus, daily testing numbers only increased by 207 over a two-day stretch to end the week.

As of Wednesday, 14,500 tests had been completed. By Friday, that number had only risen to 14,707.

When asked whether testing guidelines would or should be widened to include asymptomatic people, Acting Medical Officer Dr. Hsiu-Li Wang said the region would continue to follow the province's guidance on the issue.

"I think it's important for us locally to continue to follow the best-available expert guidance on those things," she said at a Friday news conference.

"It sounds like there's going to be further information that will be provided in the near future about testing again, we've had updates to the testing guidelines over the course of this pandemic to date, so it's to be expected that we'll continue to have updates."

During his daily press conference on Thursday, Premier Doug Ford said that officials are working on coming up with a plan to expand testing.

We can’t just be testing people with symptoms, we have to start going to the broader public and start testing as many people as possible, asymptotic people," he said.

"And until we do that – and I’m not a medical expert, I’ve said it a thousand times – but, until we do that we can’t get our hands around the whole system."

Testing of asymptomatic health-care workers and a second round of testing in long-term care and retirement homes is set to begin this weekend.

On Friday, the federal government also announced it would soon be "strongly recommending" that Canadians download a contact-tracing application so they can be notified if they've been exposed to someone who has the virus.

Until then, federal employees are prepared to make thousands of daily contact tracing calls.

As a province, Ontario has had issues maintaining its daily goal of 20,000 tests done per day: earlier this week, the number of tests dipped as low as 5,813 tests done in a 24-hour period.

Ford wasn't shy about his disappointment with those numbers on Thursday.

"Am I frustrated? Yes, I’m frustrated, but I have confidence in the team," Ford said at the Thursday press conference.

"They are working hard, they are doing everything they can. We will hit those numbers and I will be like an 800-pound gorilla on their backs every single day if I have to until I see these numbers go up."

In Waterloo Region, there are 1,066 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of those, 697 have been marked resolved, while 112 people have died.