BY ALEX GREGORY
Several hundred COVID-19 cases were not properly reported to public health officials, leading to a mixup in the number of confirmed cases in the GTA, it was revealed late last week. News broke on Monday that around 485 confirmed cases involving residents living in Peel, Toronto and York Region were not properly reported to public health officials until late last month, causing confusion as to who was responsible for the mixup and whether the cases contributed to the spread of COVID-19 in the region.
According to details released through Ontario Health, the provincial agency responsible for overseeing local hospitals and direction of the COVID-19 response, the tests were administered at William Osler Health System, which operates a COVID-19 assessment centre in Brampton and Etobicoke, and processed through Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. The confirmed cases originated from testing done at the Etobicoke assessment centre. Ontario Health ultimately claimed in a statement that they took “full responsibility” for the failure to report, though staff at each hospital reportedly believed the other was responsible for notifying the public health agency of the positive tests.
In a response Monday, a representative for Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott stated that the Ministry was “made aware of William Osler’s gap in reporting to health units,” and said that Ontario Health would be working with the hospital to address the issue. The news came as confirmed cases of the virus continued to increase in Peel Region. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 5,000 residents in the region were confirmed to have the virus, with 281 fatalities and approximately 3,672 recovered. Public health officials said that they would be working to figure out what impact the unreported confirmed cases had on the local area, and whether it contributed to a wider spread of the virus.
Ontario health said that public health agencies and the hospitals would be identifying and informing patients who had been tested within the last 14 days to ensure that case management had begun, and that “all parties are working to ensure this situation does not happen again, and steps taken to prevent re-occurrence.
” The province has also indicated that it will be doing more to increase testing capacity, with public health officials encouraging all residents to have themselves tested at an assessment centre. Previously, the province had set a goal of completing 16,000 tests per day, but did not meet that target, hitting a low of approximately 6,000 tests per day last month. The province said Wednesday that it would be looking to offer testing sites at alternate locations, and is “having conversations” with major pharmacies to allow for expanded testing