12 March 2020 – Public health campaign and increased screening introduced

Type of Intervention: Executive Order, New Tool / Service / Body
Sectors Involved: Health
Intervention Categories: Surveillance and response measures; Detecting and isolating cases; Legal and policy; New initiatives; Planning and strategy; Creation of or release of plans; Education and awareness
Level of Jurisdiction: Ontario
Lead People/Agency: Government of Ontario, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care

Overview: This intervention describes Ontario’s further actions to secure the province’s health care system to protect Ontarians from COVID-19. Ontario’s new Command Table has been formally constituted and is finalizing plans for implementation of further measures. These include:
(1) Increased access to screening, including:
(a) Immediate establishment of dedicated assessment centres in high-demand areas with more assessment centres being established in other areas in coming weeks
(b) Approval of physician billing codes for telephone assessments
(c) Launching of COVID-19 self-assessment tool on Ontario’s dedicated COVID-19 webpage
(d) Review and expansion of Ontario’s Telehealth services
(2) Expansion of province’s lab-testing capacity:
(a) Conducting lab testing on other respiratory samples from emergency departments, long-term care homes to identify and respond to otherwise unknown cases
(3) Implementation of new initiatives for public and front-line worker safety:
(a) Province-wide educate campaign, including ads on how to keep oneself safe
(b) Continuous updating of dedicated webpage twice daily, 7 days/week in nearly 30 languages
(c) Evaluation of latest evidence by Command Table to provide accurate guidance to public and health care providers
(d) Issuing of updated guidelines for Ontario’s long-term care homes
(e) Extension of one-time mitigation funding for an additional calendar year for Ontario’s public health units, providing greater stability to municipalities
Full details here: https://news.ontario.ca/mohltc/en/2020/03/correction-province-implementing-enhanced-measures-to-protect-ontarians-from-covid-19.html

Other links: 1 2
Type of Justification: Perception of an increased threat
Evidence/Justification: The announcement cites the evolving global outbreak as reason for taking further action to ensure Ontario’s health system is positioned to continue to protect citizens’ health and wellbeing. There is no other justification given for the actions taken. There is some evidence of collaboration with Public Health Ontario and Ontario Health regarding enhancing laboratory testing capacity, but no evidence provided for why this action is important.