TORONTO — Ontario says it will expand the use of rapid COVID-19 testing in schools, long-term care homes and essential workplaces.

Once the program has ramped up, health officials say they expect to have one million rapid tests distributed every week.

They could not provide a timeline though, noting it would depend on how many tests Ontario would secure through the federal government.

The province says it has received six million rapid antigen tests since November, and has distributed approximately two million.

Officials expect to have rapid testing in place in Toronto, Peel and York Region schools when they reopen next week.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,076 new cases of COVID-19 today and 18 more deaths linked to the virus.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 361 new cases in Toronto, 210 in Peel Region, and 122 in York Region. 

The province also reported that 1,415 more cases were resolved since Thursday’s report.

Elliott said that more than 62,000 tests were completed since the last daily update.

Ontario reported that 15,605 more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were given since the last report.

A total of 442,441 doses of vaccine have been administered in the province.

There have been 283,587 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began.

Of those, 264,459 have been resolved and 6,632 Ontarians have died.

Ontario’s top doctor has said the government will announce on Friday which categories of its COVID-19 restrictions system some regions will fall into when they begin to reopen next week.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams has said the decisions will be made based on local virus case rates.

The province began a gradual reopening of its economy Wednesday by lifting the stay-at-home order for three regions with low cases.

The rest of the province, except for three hot spots in the Greater Toronto Area, is set to have the order lifted next week when it transitions back to the colour-coded restrictions system. 

Toronto, Peel Region and York Region are set to remain under the stay-at-home order until at least Feb. 22.

The government has warned that a sudden spike in cases could delay the reopening of any region in the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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