Ontario expands COVID-19 testing to pharmacies, mobile units
Ontario is expanding COVID-19 testing to pharmacies, mobile units and adding more testing measures in schools.
Beginning November 18, select pharmacies will offer symptomatic testing to Ontarians. The testing will initially begin in 211 pharmacy locations before expanding to others that will have the option to opt out.
Students at primary and secondary schools in the province will continue to be able to take home PCR tests. Before the winter break begins, students will head home with rapid antigen tests to weed out asymptomatic cases before they return to class in January.
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Beginning in mid-December, there will be pop-up testing for asymptomatic people in high-traffic public settings. The goal is to catch asymptomatic infections before, during, and after the holiday season.
New testing locations will be posted here as they come available.
Here’s how testing will work:
Symptomatic testing in Pharmacies:
Beginning November 18, 211 pharmacies will offer symptomatic testing. An additional 600 pharmacies will start the onboarding process and be available in the coming days and weeks. Up to 1,300 pharmacies are able to participate if they choose to opt-in to the program.
Symptomatic people can get tested at pharmacies by appointment only. They must wear a medical mask to their appointment. Pharmacies will provide medical masks to those who require them.
Pharmacies will offer PCR tests, self-collection PCR lab-based kits, and rapid antigen tests. Not all pharmacies will offer all of the above services.
Pharmacies will have to provide dedicated space for testing. Symptomatic individuals who get tested at a pharmacy must leave immediately after testing. They are not permitted to shop. Symptomatic individuals are to isolate until they receive a negative result.
Testing in schools
In mid-November, self-collection PCR tests will be deployed in schools. Students can do the self-collection kits at home and drop them off at a testing location, like a pharmacy.
The province will begin deploying 11 million rapid antigen tests to students in publicly funded schools in late November. Each student will receive five tests. They will be instructed to conduct the tests at home every three to four days beginning December 23. Students should conduct the tests on Mondays and Thursdays until all five tests are used.
Participation in the take-home rapid antigen testing is voluntary.
In February 2022, secondary schools can resume regular timetables of four courses per day.
Mobile testing units
Beginning in mid-December, the province will begin using mobile testing units across the province. These pop-up testing centres will target high-risk areas. Locations are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.