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Province plans to distribute 44 million free rapid COVID tests

Province plans to distribute 44 million free rapid COVID tests

Ontario will be distributing 5 million rapid tests each week for eight weeks through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province, as well as 500,000 each week through community partners in vulnerable communities. In total, the province is making 44 million rapid tests available to the public for free over the coming weeks.

Starting February 9, over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations will provide free rapid tests while supplies last, with a limit of one box of five tests per household per visit. Participating retailers will receive additional supply from the province each week and have the ability to determine how tests are distributed in order to best serve the community, including through appointment bookings, at checkout or through online orders. A list of participating retailers as well as information on how retail locations are distributing rapid test kits can be found at Ontario.ca/rapidtest.

To support access to tests for communities that have been impacted disproportionately by COVID-19 and face barriers to testing, including language, income and transportation, lead agencies working as part of the High Priority Communities Strategy will be distributing rapid tests through existing local partnerships, such as community centres, community health centres, places of worship, and food banks. Lead agencies will also have discretion to provide additional boxes depending on individual circumstances, such as a multi-generational home or an immunocompromised family member.

To date, Ontario has directly procured a total of about 157 million rapid tests, including 126 million between December 2021 and January 2022 alone.

Free rapid tests provided by the government are intended for personal use. The province can fine any businesses and individuals who may be in breach of the government’s emergency order which prohibits charging unfair prices for necessary goods.

A person who tests positive on a rapid antigen test is no longer required or encouraged to get a confirmatory PCR or rapid molecular test. If you test positive on a PCR, rapid molecular or a rapid antigen test, you must isolate. Visit Ontario.ca/exposed to learn more about isolation directions.

As part of the Provincial Antigen Screening Program, 3.62 million rapid antigen tests are being shipped biweekly to the education and child care sectors for use when children or staff are symptomatic.

Ontario has received a limited supply of Paxlovid from the federal government and is prioritizing treatment for individuals at the highest risk of severe outcomes.

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