Here's who can get a publicly funded COVID-19 PCR test in Ontario

Dec 31 2021, 4:09 pm

Ontario’s new COVID-19 PCR testing eligibility has officially gone into effect, leaving many people unable to access free testing.

The new eligibility was announced on Thursday in light of record-breaking daily COVID-19 cases. On Friday, the province reported a new daily record of 16,713 new COVID-19 cases. With the new testing guidelines, this number is sure to drop as many symptomatic patients and high-risk exposures will not be able to access free testing.

Experts had already warned that testing capacities and delays were painting an inaccurate picture of COVID-19 in Ontario.

With the new testing guidelines now in effect, we’ve put together a list of who is eligible for publicly-funded testing:

  • Symptomatic people who are:
    • Hospitalized patients
    • Patients in Emergency Departments, if the treating physician advises to do so
    • Patient-facing health care workers
    • Staff, residents, essential care providers, and visitors in hospitals and congregate living settings, including long-term care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, temporary foreign worker settings, and correctional institutions
    • Outpatients for whom COVID-19 treatment is being considered
    • Underhoused or homeless
  • People who are from First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities and people who travel into these communities for work
  • Symptomatic elementary and secondary students and education staff who have received a PCR self-collection kit through their school
  • People being admitted to or transferred from hospital or congregate living setting
  • High-risk contacts and asymptomatic/symptomatic people in confirmed or suspected outbreaks in high-risk settings. This includes hospitals, long-term care, retirement homes, other congregate living settings and institutions, and other settings as directed by the local public health unit
  • Individuals, and one accompanying caregiver, with written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager, OHIP
  • Asymptomatic testing in hospital, long-term care, retirement homes and other congregate living settings

In addition, effective Friday, fully vaccinated individuals who develop symptoms of COVID-19 will have to isolate for five days after symptoms start. Previously, people were required to isolate for 10 days after the onset of symptoms.

Brooke TaylorBrooke Taylor

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