New COVID-19 Testing Guidelines Promise to Lower Wait Times

Friday, September 25, 2020

After weeks of long wait times for COVID screenings across the province the Ontario Government released new COVID testing guidelines to help manage the backlog. 

As of Friday September 25 the new directive includes an addition of 60 pharmacies across the province designated specifically to screening asymptomatic people and an appointment of 600 public health nurses to school districts who will assist in diagnosing children’s symptoms before they are sent for testing or asked to stay home for 14 days. 

Who can get a pharmacy screening?

If you are asymptomatic (not showing COVID symptoms) and are considered at risk of exposure, or part of an essential services provider group who must get tested regularly you can book an appointment at participating pharmacies across Ontario

This includes: 

  • Long Term Care (LTC) workers 
  • LTC essential caregivers - people caring for or visiting a resident in a LTC facility  
  • Teachers, firefighters, police officers and other essential workers that require regular testing

Do not go to a drug store for screening if you have symptoms or without an appointment.

Who can go to a COVID-19 assessment centre?

You should go to an assessment centre for a free test if you are:

  • Showing COVID-19 symptoms
  • Exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app
  • A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit; and
  • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Testing will remain available if you are asymptomatic and: 

  • Are at greater risk due to your health condition or employment, 
  • Are under direction of the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care

Check locations of assessment centres near you to see if you require and appointment. 
The government says they are working on how they will move forward with assessing children in schools who show up with runny noses, a cough, or sore throat and that might be healthy otherwise. The role of the 625 public health nurses available at school districts across the province will be to help screen kids and help reduce pressure on assessment centres. More details on this to come in the following days.