Ontario has released updated guidance on COVID-19 rapid antigen tests as the province awaits a shipment from the federal government.
Rapid antigen tests are now being recommended for a “test-to-work” strategy. This would allow employers to direct employees to return to work if a rapid test comes back negative after a COVID-19 exposure.
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In addition, rapid tests are recommended for frequent use among asymptomatic people for screening purposes. Symptomatic people can also use the test for screening. The updated guidance says that if a rapid test comes back positive, the household should isolate. The province said if two rapid tests taken within 24 to 48 hours come back negative, it means there is likely no COVID-19 infection.
Rapid antigen tests will no longer require a PCR test for confirmation. There is no evidence to indicate that rapid tests have changed or become more accurate despite this change in guidance.
On Wednesday, the federal government announced that 140 million rapid antigen tests would be deployed to provinces and territories in Canada. It is not yet clear when the provinces will receive the tests.
The province’s focus for deploying rapid tests will be on high-risk workplaces, education and childcare facilities and sectors with mandatory vaccination and testing policies. Public access will depend on supply.