Rapid testing for at-home use

Published on February 09, 2022

Ontarians can now get a free rapid antigen testing kit for at-home use. Expanding access to free rapid tests to the general public will to help detect COVID‑19 earlier and stop the spread of the virus.

Overview

Rapid antigen tests are easy-to-use tests that detect certain proteins in the virus to confirm the presence of COVID-19. Results from these tests can be available in as little as 15 minutes.

To further support Ontario’s cautious easing of public health measures, we are expanding access to free rapid testing kits to the general public for at-home use.

Learn more about rapid antigen tests, including when it is recommended that you use one.

Where to access a free test

On February 9th, Ontario began distributing 5.5 million rapid antigen tests each week through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province, as well as through community partners in vulnerable communities, as part of a time-limited program. Over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations are providing tests while supplies last, with a limit of one box of five tests per household.

Participating retailers receive new supply each week and have the ability to determine how tests are distributed in order to best serve the community, including:

  • through an appointment booking
  • at the checkout
  • through an online order

If your participating location is out of stock, please check back with them.

Find a retailer near you

Retailers have opted in to participate in this program. The province will assess and bring on additional retailers who are interested in participating on an ongoing basis to ensure continued widespread access.

How to use your test

Rapid antigen tests are easy to use at home. You can either test yourself or have someone help you.

Start by reading the instructions that come with your kit. You can also read additional step by step instructions that include swabbing your mouth and nose or watch an instructional video.

Use these training resources to help you safely and accurately administer the tests at home. When the tests are used according to directions, they do not pose a health risk.

Please note: the liquid in the tubes can irritate your eyes and skin and is dangerous if swallowed. If the liquid accidentally touches your skin, wash it with plenty of water. If it touches your eyes or mouth, rinse with plenty of water for 15 minutes and contact your healthcare provider or the Ontario Poison Centre ( 1-800-268-9017) for assistance.

If you get a positive rapid antigen test result

If you test positive using a rapid antigen test, it is highly likely you have COVID‑19. You should isolate and follow the appropriate guidelines.

You do not need to get a PCR or rapid molecular test to confirm your rapid test result.

If you test positive and are at high-risk of severe illness, you should immediately contact your primary care provider or visit a clinical assessment centre. You may benefit from available therapies to prevent severe illness.

You may be at higher risk of severe illness if you:

  • are immunocompromised (have an immune system that is weakened by a health condition or medications)
  • are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or have not received a booster dose
  • have one or more risk factors, such as a long-term medical condition or being of older age
  • are Indigenous, Black, or a member of another racialized community

If you get a negative rapid antigen test result

If you have COVID‑19 symptoms and your test is negative, you may still have COVID‑19. You should:

  • use another rapid antigen test 24-48 hours after your first negative test. If this test is also negative, then you most likely do not have COVID‑19.
  • self-isolate until your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea)
  • contact your primary care provider or visit a clinical assessment centre if you are at higher risk of severe illness

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