Attention! If you are eligible for antivirals (Paxlovid) and have symptoms you should get tested and assessed as quickly as possible. See the tabs below to learn who is eligible for PCR testing, where to get them, and information on rapid testing and anti-viral treatments (eg: Paxlovid) in Ontario.
Still have questions? Call Health Care Connect Ontario if you have questions or need help. Call 811 (toll-free TTY: 1-866-797-0007) or visit the website to chat with a nurse online.
See the tabs below to learn who is eligible for PCR testing, where to get them, and information on rapid testing and anti-viral treatments (eg: Paxlovid) in Ontario.
The criteria of who is eligible for a PCR test at an Assessment Centre or pharmacy have changed. The following individuals/populations are eligible for free PCR testing at Assessment Centres and pharmacies:
*NEW* Those at higher-risk for severe COVID-19 who may be eligible for antiviral treatment are also eligible for free PCR testing and assessment. Use this screening tool to see if you are eligible to be tested and assessed for antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid, in Ontario.
- Anyone 70+
- Anyone 18+ who is immune-compromised
- Anyone 60+ who has NOT had 3 doses of vaccine
- Anyone 18+ who has NOT had 3 doses of vaccine AND has at least one risk factor
If you have symptoms (even mild ones) and are eligible, seek testing and assessment immediately as treatment must be started within 5 days. Find a test centre that can also assess you for antiviral treatment by using this screening tool.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you are eligible for free PCR testing if you have at least one COVID-19 symptom and you are from any of the following groups:
You are eligible for PCR testing if you have at least one COVID-19 symptom and you are:
- a patient-facing health care worker or someone who lives with one
- a staff member, volunteer, resident, inpatient, student, essential care provider, or visitor in the highest risk setting (and their household members)
- an outpatient being considered for COVID-19 treatment
- underhoused or homeless
- someone who has been exposed, or a close contact of someone exposed, to a confirmed or suspected outbreak in a high risk setting, including a hospital, long-term care, retirement home, other congregate living setting or institution, or other settings as directed by the local public health unit
- household members of workers in highest risk settings (i.e., Hospitals and congregate living settings (e.g., Long-Term Care Homes, Retirement Homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices and correctional institutions)
- pregnant people
- first responders, including fire, police and paramedics
If you do not have symptoms
If you do not have symptoms, you are eligible for PCR testing if you:
- are from a First Nation, Inuit, or Métis community or are travelling into these communities for work
- are unvaccinated and being admitted or transferred to or from a hospital or congregate living setting
- are scheduled for a procedure at a hospital and your physician/HCP/Surgeon has requested a PCR be done prior. Please be sure not to wait until the last minute to book; and get your results online or by phone before you go in for your procedure (you can call the Health Unit Monday-Friday if you don’t have access online). It may take a few days to get your results. Check with your provider for the timing of your test and see more about testing and getting your results here.
- are someone who has been exposed, or a close contact of someone exposed, to a confirmed or suspected outbreak in a high risk setting, including a hospital, long-term care, retirement home, other congregate living setting or institution, or other settings as directed by the local public health unit
- have written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager of OHIP or are a caregiver for someone who does
- are in a hospital, long-term care, retirement home or other congregate living setting, as directed by public health units, provincial guidance or other directives
If you are not eligible for a PCR test and you have symptoms of COVID-19, or you are a high-risk contact, follow the guidance on the provincial website.
The Health Unit does NOT have Rapid Antigen Tests to provide. Learn more about how Ontario is expanding access to Rapid testing and where you will be able to access them. Please do not go into one of these sites to pick them up if you are symptomatic and should be isolating at home. It is better to arrange to do this when you are well or have someone else do this for you if you are isolating and don’t have one at home.
What does a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) assess?
The Rapid Antigen Test is testing for the presence of the virus in our bodies. Similar to a PCR test it is looking for parts of the virus but is less sensitive than the PCR test which is amplified to be able to detect smaller amounts of the virus in the body. This means a PCR test can detect COVID-19 sooner and more reliably than a Rapid Antigen Test. Rapid Antigen Tests, on the other hand, are best able to detect the virus when there is a lot of it in our systems (a high “viral load”).
Where can I get a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)?
The Health Unit does NOT have Rapid Antigen Tests to provide, and we are not involved in their distribution. Learn more about how Ontario is expanding access to rapid testing and where you will be able to access them. Please do not go into one of these sites to pick them up if you are symptomatic and should be isolating at home. It is better to arrange to do this when you are well or have someone else do this for you if you are isolating and don’t have one at home.
What if I don’t have a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)?
There is no requirement to use a Rapid Antigen Test. If you don’t have access to one you can still assess your symptoms and isolate according to the screening tool guidance. You can also see the What if I have possible COVID-19 symptoms tab on this page for more guidance.
When should Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) be used?
Rapid Antigen Tests are primarily to be used for testing individuals when they are experiencing symptoms to find out if the symptoms are related to COVID-19. Because Rapid Antigen Tests are less sensitive than PCR tests – if someone is experiencing symptoms then they must have 2 negative RATs taken 24–48 hours apart in order to indicate their symptoms are not likely COVID-19. Rapid Antigen Tests done three or more days after the symptoms start are the most accurate; tests done earlier than 3 days may be negative even when the virus is present.
They may also be used for routine, repeated screening of people with no symptoms to help identify and prevent cases of COVID-19 in hospitals, long-term care and retirement homes, and other high-risk settings as an added layer of safety.
One-off testing (ie: before a gathering) is generally not recommended. But if you are going to use the test for this purpose, you should complete it as close to the event as possible, and be aware of the limitations (could be a false negative, and only provides results for this moment in time).
How do I do a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT)?
Rapid Antigen Tests come with instructions for use. Read them carefully before beginning – taking special note of the pre-test instructions to not have anything to eat or drink (including brushing teeth or chewing gum) for 30 minutes prior to taking the test. The method you use for swabbing is also important. Recent data shows Rapid Antigen Tests may be more effective in detecting Omicron when a combined oral/nasal swab is done. This would mean swabbing both cheeks, followed by the back of the tongue or throat, and then both nostrils. Check out the videos and written instructions below for details:
- Video Instructions for Adults: COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test: Sample Collection for Omicron
- Video Instructions for Children: How to Do a Combined Nose and Mouth Swab for COVID-19
- Written Instruction by Public Health Ontario: COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Tests: How to Collect a Sample
What do the results mean?
A positive result on a RAT:
- is a good indication that you have COVID-19. Please follow the instructions on this page for testing positive: Case and Contact Tracing – Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
- does not need to be confirmed by a PCR test
- does not need to be reported to a public health unit unless otherwise directed by public health
A negative result on a RAT:
- on a single test cannot rule out COVID-19 infection by itself
- if you have symptoms, one negative test alone is not enough to clear you from COVID-19. It should be followed by a second test 24 to 48 hours later if available (48 hours may give a more accurate result). It is important to continue to isolate while waiting to test again. If your second test taken within 48 hours of your first negative result is also negative, this most likely means you do not have COVID-19.
- If symptoms persist, worsen, or new ones arise – retest if one is available.
- if you were testing because you were a high-risk contact – continue to follow the guidance for high-risk contacts here: Case and Contact Tracing – Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
- if you were testing before attending a gathering or visiting someone vulnerable – know that this result has limitations. It is only a snapshot in time, could be a false negative, and does not mean you will not contract COVID in the near future.
If you are being asked by your employer to be tested but you are not an organization covered by current ministry requirements, you can find a testing site here. Your workplace may have access to free rapid antigen tests from the Ministry of Health.
What are Antivirals?
- Antiviral medication (like Paxlovid or Remdesivir) stops the COVID-19 virus from multiplying in the cell. It needs to be taken early when there isn’t a lot of virus in the cells, and the drug can have its biggest impact. Both can cause serious interactions with other medication so a physician must review medication currently being taken before prescribing them.
- Paxlovid is an oral anti-viral (pills) and it must be started within 5 days of symptoms appearing.
- Remdisivir is given through IV and must be started within 7 days of COVID-19 symptoms appearing.
Who can have Antivirals?
- People who are eligible to be assessed for COVID-19 antiviral treatment are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms that require hospitalization. This includes:
- Anyone 70+
- Anyone 18+ who is immune-compromised
- Anyone 60+ who has NOT had 3 doses of vaccine
- Anyone 18+ who has NOT had 3 doses of vaccine AND has at least one risk factor such as:
- Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure
- chronic respiratory disease (including cystic fibrosis)
- cerebral palsy
- intellectual or developmental disabilities
- sickle cell disease
- moderate or severe liver or kidney disease
- pregnant and unvaccinated (zero doses)
- Eligible people must have symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for COVID-19 (PCR or rapid antigen test), be within 5 days of symptom onset (Paxlovid), and have been assessed by a physician to determine if treatment is right for them. A prescription for Paxlovid can be filled at a local pharmacy that carries the medication – Pharmacies are found here: Ontario.ca/antivirals
What do I need to do if I am interested in Antiviral Medication? How do you know if you can take Antivirals?
- Use this screening tool for people at higher-risk for severe COVID-19 to see if you are eligible to be tested with a PCR test and assessed for antiviral treatments
- Talk with your physician about whether you are eligible before you develop COVID-19 symptoms (discuss medication you are taking and their effect on the treatment). This saves a step when symptoms do develop.
- At the first sign of symptoms, do a Rapid Test (if you have one); if it is positive call your physician. If it is negative, or you don’t have a rapid test available, then make an appointment at one of the Assessment Centres (see locations above on this page) to have a PCR test – the PCR test may pick up the virus sooner than a rapid test. If you receive a positive PCR test, then contact your physician to be assessed for the antiviral medication.
- To find a test centre that can also assess you for antiviral treatment use the screening tool. In our area – that is both the Brockville and Kemptville Assessment Centres. Also testing alone can be done in Smiths Falls, and Almonte. Those eligible for antivirals have also been added to the eligibility list for testing.
Where do you get the Antivirals once you have the prescription?
- The prescription can be filled at one of the local pharmacies listed on the Provincial website: Ontario.ca/antivirals
Why is this new treatment important?
- It’s important to use all the tools we have to minimize the severe disease and death that this pandemic has caused.
- Share this information with anyone who may be more vulnerable to severe outcomes from COVID-19. This includes those who are not vaccinated as well as those with underlying health conditions or advanced age that put them at risk.
Where to Get Tested If You Are Eligible for a PCR Test
Large volumes of calls can overwhelm the centres’ phone systems. If you can’t get through, keep trying, and if you do not get a call back the following day – please try again.
- Brockville Shopping Centre at 125 Stewart Boulevard (Unit #6)
- Medical Assessment available – including clinical assessments and prescriptions for anti-viral treatment (Paxlovid) if eligible
- By appointment only
- Monday to Friday: 10:00am–5:00pm
- Saturday, Sunday and Statutory Holidays: 10:00am–2:30pm; closed 12:30pm–1:00pm
- ONLINE: Brockville COVID-19 Assessment Centre Online Booking
- CALL: 613-704-1441
- If no appointments are available for the time and date that you would prefer on the first schedule that you select, go back and select the next schedule to view other available appointments.
- To cancel an appointment that was booked online using the online portal, please call the booking line during regular hours at 613-704-1441 and press 2.
- If you have mobility issues, please call 1-800-660-5853 for a referral to EMS to have an in home swab done.
- If you are unable to book an appointment, some limited walk-in tests may be available but are not guaranteed.
Please arrive 15 minutes prior to your appointment time and follow signs to register before parking your vehicle.
*Brockville Assessment Centre can also provide care for those experiencing more than mild symptoms who need help managing their illness. Testing is still only provided for those who qualify but further monitoring of symptoms and diagnosis by a health care professional is available for those who are advised to seek care or who cannot manage their symptoms at home. To seek this care, book an appointment as advised above either online or by phone, or you may also attend the clinic safely as a walk-in during open hours.
- Smiths Falls Site of the Perth Smiths Falls Hospital (Main Entrance – on Elmsley Street North)
- As of July 6, 2022, the Smiths Falls Testing Centre is no longer offering COVID-19 testing to the general public.
- Almonte General Hospital, 75 Spring Street. Curbside parking with in-person testing/ home kit pickup in the Octagon Room. Follow signage upon arrival.
- Tests provided to those who are eligible. Must be at least 6 months old. No travel testing.
- Monday to Friday 8:00am–11:00am
- Saturday 8:00am–1:00pm
- Sunday Closed
- Pre-booked appointments only
- ONLINE: Health Myself Patient Portal
- CALL: 613-325-1208 – Phone line is now open 8:00am–3:00pm daily for bookings
- Bell Hall at 15 Campus Drive on Kemptville Campus
- Includes DIY/self-collection testing and clinical medical assessments and prescriptions for anti-viral treatment (Paxlovid) if eligible
- Monday to Friday: 9:00am–5:00pm
- Saturday and Sunday: Closed
- ONLINE: Health Myself Patient Portal
- CALL: 613-258-3192
- Self-collection kits will be picked up at your appointment time. They can be done in your car or at home and brought back for drop-off. You cannot eat or drink anything (including gum, lozenges, toothpaste or cigarettes) for 30 minutes prior to testing.
- Limited walk-ins may be available but not guaranteed.
- Please watch the following video to familiarize yourself with the swab process.
The Ministry of Health has a listing all of the assessment centres on their website for people to find assessment centres in any area. You do not need your Health Card to get tested but you need to use it for reference if you want to get your results online.
Participating Pharmacies* can provide the following COVID-19 testing options:
- Rapid antigen screening:
- For workplace
- Free for high-risk settings that are required to test by the Province (Directive #6)
- Other workplaces – fees may apply (workplace may have access to free rapid antigen tests from the Province)
- For travel purposes (fees apply)
- For workplace
- Diagnostic testing (lab-based PCR and rapid molecular tests) for:
- Symptomatic individuals (free)
- High risk contacts identified by Public Health (free)
- Those in a targeted testing group (free)
- Those with a positive rapid antigen test (free)
- For travel purposes (fees apply)
*Not all pharmacies will provide diagnostic testing for symptomatic or high risk contacts. Please check before going and book ahead if required.
Please practice strict mask-wearing, physical distancing and hand hygiene when seeking testing.
If eligible, you can book an appointment at a local testing and assessment centre. See the listings above for information on hours, locations and booking instructions.
Participating pharmacies can also provide testing.
Note: You do not need your Health Card to get tested but you need to use it for reference if you want to get your results online.
Learn more about how Ontario is expanding access to Rapid testing and where you can access them. Please do not go into one of these sites to pick up tests if you are symptomatic and should be isolating at home. It is better to arrange to do this when you are well or have someone else do this for you if you are isolating and don’t have one at home.
An antibody test is a blood test that detects whether the body has developed antibodies to a virus. The body takes two to four weeks to develop antibodies so it indicates past infection not current infection. Antibodies may last a lifetime (e.g., measles) or a short time (e.g., rhinovirus – cold). Currently, we do don’t know if having COVID-19 antibodies protects against re-infection, or how long the antibodies last. The antibody test is different than the nose/throat swab test for COVID-19 that detects the presence of the virus in your nose/throat and indicates current infection.
Health Canada has recently approved an antibody test for COVID-19 to be used in very limited and specific circumstances. This test is in its early stages and has both false positive and false negative results.
Tests for the purposes of travel (required either by destination or transportation) are not available at local Assessment and Testing Centres and are not covered by Ontario Health Care. The documentation from tests acquired at the Assessment Centres will NOT BE accepted at the Canadian Border. When looking for private travel testing services – be sure to confirm the timing and type of test needed. You can check with private labs, travel clinics or pharmacies to see if they offer the service. Some private services available are listed here: COVID-19 Testing for Travel – Ottawa Public Health.
Getting Your Results
Every lab is different and it also depends on the day. If a lab has less volume, the turnaround time is faster, more volume and it will take longer. Most results come back in 1–2 days, but some can longer. If it has been more than 2 days – try contacting the assessment centre directly if they gave you a phone number or email. Otherwise, you can call us (1-800-660-5853 extension 2222) to see if we can help find your results.
- If you provided your health card at the time of testing, you can check your results online. You will need your health card again to access your results as there is a number on the back of the card you will need to enter.
- If you provided your health care provider’s information at the time of testing, a copy of the results will be sent to them. You can call your health care provider to see if they have received the results or they may call you if that is part of their practice.
- If after 2 days, you still cannot locate your results online, through the assessment centre or your health care provider, you can call the Health Unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2222 and we can try and track it down for you.
I have tried to get on the online portal and it isn’t working?
- The online portal could be down. It does seem to crash sometimes. Unfortunately, if you can’t get on the portal, neither can we.
What if I don’t have internet?
- Call your health care provider (or the assessment centre if they provided you with a contact phone number or email) to see if they have a copy of your results. If after 2 days you still haven’t heard, contact the Health Unit at 1-800-660-5853 extension 2222.
What should I do while I wait for my results?
- While waiting for your results you should following the guidance on our Case and Contact webpage.
- If you get a positive result, follow the guidance on our Case and Contact Tracing section.
- While a negative COVID-19 result is good news, it is only a snapshot in time. It does not give you any guarantee that you will remain negative in the future.
- If it is a Rapid test, it should be followed by a second rapid test in 24-48 hours. If both are negative this is a good indication that it is not COVID-19.
- Follow public health precautions:
- Practice physical distancing – stay 2m (6ft) away from people in public areas
- When you go out in public, take a cloth face covering/mask with you so you can put it on when you are potentially in close contact with other people, or where required indoors.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer after being in touch with others or handling anything from outside your home
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Cover your cough and sneeze with a tissue or into your arm, not your hands
- Do not share personal items that come into contact with saliva such as toothbrushes, eating utensils, drinks, water bottles, and towels.
- Get vaccinated at a local clinic or pharmacy
- If you have access to the online portal, you can print a copy of your results right at home.
- You can call your health care provider to get a copy of your results.
- If you cannot access the online portal, contact either the assessment centre directly or the Health Unit and we can arrange to get you a copy.
Please note: The Health Unit is not providing letters for return to work with negative test results.
- It means you must ensure you have no contact with others who live outside your home and restricted contact with those in your home.
- You can go outside in your own yard/property as long as no-one else is there.
- You cannot walk around town in case you meet other people.
- Defer medical and other appointments unless they are critical. Let the care provider know ahead of time that you are in self-isolation, wear a face covering/mask, and do not use public transportation.
Households have the highest risk of transmission from a case. Follow guidance for high risk contacts on our case and contacts page.
*If you are self-isolating – please check out the Mental Wellness and Health Equity pages of our website to see what resources and supports are available. You can also call 1-800-660-5853 for further assistance.