Canada’s long wait ends as Trudeau government okays Covid-19 rapid test kits

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After days of criticism over delays, the Canadian government has finally approved rapid test kits for the coronavirus disease.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the first batch of the kits made by an American manufacturer will arrive in the country “in the coming weeks”, as Health Canada gave its approval for the devices a day after public services and procurement minister Anita Anand announced that 7.9 million units had been bought.

These decisions come even as some Canadian provinces, including two of the largest, Ontario and Quebec, witnessed record highs in new Covid-19 cases as the second wave sets in.

Confirmed cases in the country have surpassed 158,400 as authorities have warned of community transmission of the deadly virus. The daily increase in infections has been 1,672, a rise of nearly 90% over that recorded a fortnight earlier.

However, there have been far fewer fatalities when compared to the conditions prevailing in March and April, with only six confirmed to have died on Wednesday.

The situation in the two provinces worst-hit by the pandemic, Ontario and Quebec, is grim. Francois Legault, Quebec premier, described it as “critical” as he announced a “red alert level” for three regions, including the province’s two largest municipalities, Montreal and Quebec City.

Coming into effect on Thursday, many establishments that were allowed to reopen, including bars, restaurants and cinemas, will be forced to close down for a month.

Ontario, meanwhile, recorded its highest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases on Monday, at 700, as part of a trend of numbers rising steeply over the last week.

The surge in numbers has impacted public health infrastructure, particularly in relation to testing, as people queued up for hours for Covid-19 tests with results taking days to become available.

Under pressure, the Trudeau government announced the procurement of molecular devices from Abbott Laboratories on Tuesday. Results are expected to be delivered within minutes after a swab specimen is taken from the throat or nose.

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