Half-million COVID-19 tests completed at Toronto microbiology department

With the largest COVID-19 testing capacity in Ontario, the shared Sinai Health – University Health Network (UHN) Microbiology Department has now completed more than half a million tests for residents across the province.

“We’re really proud to go beyond serving just our hospitals to supporting residents throughout Ontario as a whole,” says Dr. Tony Mazzulli, Microbiologist-in-Chief, Sinai Health – UHN.

“Reaching a half million milestone shows we have been successful in meeting a critical testing need and contributing to the COVID response effort for the entire province.”

Under the direction of Mazzulli and Christine Bruce, Laboratory Administrative Director, the lab has scaled-up COVID-19 testing by more than 20 times its March volumes. In that time, it has completed more COVID-19 tests than any other single laboratory in the province.

“We have a rock-solid foundation for testing and incredibly talented staff, which have allowed us to respond to testing needs very quickly,” Bruce says. “The team has not taken their foot off the gas since day one.”

With the province pushing for increased testing, the Sinai Health – UHN Microbiology Department is building capacity to be able to perform 17,000 tests per day by the beginning of October. Christine says, “Ontario put out a call to action, and this is our way of answering the call.”

“Ensuring the province has sufficient testing capacity is critical to our public health response to COVID-19. Rapid identification of new cases allows for early contact tracing and prevention of further spread of the virus, says Dr. Jennie Johnstone, Chair of Ontario’s Testing Strategy Expert Panel and Physician Lead of Infection Prevention and Control at Sinai Health.

Dr. Kathryn Tinckam, Interim Medical Director for UHN’s Laboratory Medicine Program adds, “Whether it is turn-around-time, testing capacity or any challenge they have faced, this team has been relentless in finding the fastest, most accurate solutions for Ontarians.”

The lab performs testing for 24 hospitals and 15 assessment centres across the province. Of 500,000 completed tests, approximately 3.5 per cent have been positive with COVID-19

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