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Ontario expanding COVID-19 testing locations, pharmacies to provide test services for symptomatic individuals

The province announced today that it is enhancing COVID-19 testing by expanding the number of testing locations and making it more convenient to access publicly funded testing for those who need it. These new testing options are being deployed as more people head indoors and attend family gatherings during the colder winter months.

“While vaccination remains the best way to protect against COVID-19, testing remains a key part of our pandemic response by detecting cases earlier and providing an additional layer of safety,” said Health Minister Christine Elliott. “As we head into the colder months we are enhancing our testing strategy to ensure that every Ontarian, regardless of where they live, can access testing closer to home when they need it and get a test result as quickly as possible.”

In the coming weeks, the government will be deploying several testing strategies across the province to increase access to testing and mitigate the increased risk of transmission over the winter months.

These include:

  • Access to publicly funded COVID-19 PCR specimen collection in select pharmacies for all individuals eligible for testing, including symptomatic individuals and close contacts. Pharmacies must choose to opt-in to this service and will be required to follow stringent infection prevention and control measures to protect staff, patients and customers against COVID-19.
  • Providing take-home PCR self-collection kits for eligible individuals, allowing them to pick up their free test and drop off their specimens at participating pharmacies across Ontario, providing a more convenient and consistent testing option in rural and remote areas.
  • Expanding ID NOW rapid PCR testing to select assessment centres and pharmacies across Northern Ontario in the coming weeks, increasing access to convenient local testing and allowing individuals to get quick results in these communities.
  • Bringing asymptomatic testing directly to Ontarians with pop-up testing sites in higher-traffic public settings to provide vaccine education and help reduce the risk of transmission over the holidays. Starting in mid-December, testing options will be offered to people without symptoms in various settings across the province. Sites will be announced in the coming weeks and will be selected based on a risk analysis of hot-spot zones.
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