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Toronto Public Health facing renewed criticism over contact tracing abilities|BCI CANADA

© Evan Mitsui / CBCThe GTA has emerged as Ontario's epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, accounting for about three-quarters of all new infections.

Toronto emergency doctor says the city is still struggling to perform adequate contact tracing for COVID-19, including at least one recent case involving a person considered a high risk for spreading the virus.

Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, said he was "disappointed" after his reaching out to Toronto Public Health about a patient earlier this week.

"I was told that contact tracing would start right away. Unfortunately, when I called the patient's family more than 24 hours later ... they had yet to be contacted by public health," he told CBC Toronto.

"There's really no point in informing public health that you have a patient who you think has COVID, unless the contact tracing starts right away."

The patient, who is not being identified due to privacy considerations, arrived at Michael Garron with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, a diagnosis which was later confirmed in a test.

The patient's job involves contact with the public, Warner said, making the need for swift contact tracing especially critical.

Toronto Public Health has already faced criticism during the novel coronavirus crisis for failing to conduct contact tracing for dozens of confirmed patients.

Mayor John Tory, Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa and other city officials are scheduled to deliver their latest COVID-19 briefing at 3:45 p.m. ET, which you can watch live in this story.

Warner, who has emerged as one of Toronto's most outspoken doctors during the pandemic, said the creation of a robust and reliable contact tracing apparatus is needed before further restrictions are lifted.

"We can't reopen the economy first, if these very basic functions cannot be executed in a timely manner," he said.

While contact tracing is considered the responsibility of local health units, the province says it is doing more to help municipalities struggling to keep up with cases.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday the province now boasts around 2,000 contact tracers.

We have an army," he said at an announcement unveiling Ontario's latest testing strategy.

Toronto's latest COVID-19 statistics show 10,901 total cases since the start of the pandemic, 2,005 of which are active, along with 810 deaths.

The city also released detailed geographic data about the spread of the virus this week

CBC News

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