(Reuters) - Canada aims to more than triple its nationwide daily capacity of novel coronavirus tests to 200,000 and the federal government is providing C$4.28 billion ($3.25 billion) to provinces to reach the goal, the government said on Wednesday.
The funds are part of the C$19 billion the government allocated for Canada’s Safe Restart Agreement reached with the provinces in July to help them restart their economies and contain the pandemic. The money for testing can also be used towards contact tracing and sharing public health data.
Canada tested 56,695 people daily as of Tuesday, according to government data. Canada has the capacity to run over 60,000 tests per day, chief public health officer Theresa Tam said on Tuesday.
Canada is “not out of the woods yet,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference in Ottawa on Wednesday, highlighting the upward trend of COVID-19 cases across the country in recent weeks. Authorities have blamed the surge on private social gatherings.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Wednesday the province would begin fining people who disobey the limit on social gatherings. He did not mention how much the fines would be, but promised they would be “the highest in the country,” as the province recorded 315 new infections in 24 hours.
Quebec Premier François Legault said the province’s public security department and prosecutors are discussing ways to crack down on private gatherings since police must have a warrant to intervene in homes.
Canada on Sept. 15 reported 138,803 total cases, a one-day increase of 793, and 9,188 deaths, an increase of nine.
Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver, Mahad Arale in Toronto; Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal and David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Grant McCool
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