COVID-19 rapid screening tests

When to use a COVID-19 rapid screening test

It is recommended that you use a rapid test as soon as possible if you have COVID-19 symptoms and:

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms can also use a rapid test to find out if they have COVID-19.

Shelf life (expiry date) for rapid tests

The shelf lives (expiry dates) for rapid tests have been amended by Health Canada.

  • Most rapid tests can be kept and used for 24 months after their manufacturing dates.
  • However, BD VeritorTM rapid tests can be kept and used for 16 months after their manufacturing dates.
  • The manufacturing date is indicated on each test box next to the code MFG.

Expired rapid tests can be thrown in the garbage. The instruction sheets and cardboard boxes can be put in your recycling bin.

How to use a COVID-19 rapid screening test

Everything you need for your test is included in the test kit, except for a timer or stopwatch. Be sure to have one close at hand before starting the test. You might also need a glass if your kit does not have tube stand.

1. Disinfect the surface the materials will be placed on.

2. Wash your hands.

3. Put the liquid into the tube or open the tube that is prefilled with liquid.
For the PANBIO tests, add 12 drops of liquid to the tube.

4. To increase chances of detecting the virus, if you wish, rub the inside of each cheek for at least 5 seconds before taking a sample from both nostrils.

5. Insert the swab into a nostril while turning it against the lining of the nose. Repeat in the other nostril using the same swab.

6. Put the swab in the tube and mix it in the liquid.

7. Put the tube with the swab into the stand (or in a glass) and let it sit for 2 minutes.

8. Remove the swab by pressing against the sides of the tube to release as much liquid as possible.

9. Put the nozzle on the tube and place 3 to 5 drops into the sample well.

10. Wait 15 minutes. Do not touch the test device during the waiting period. Reading the test results before or after 15 minutes can give incorrect results.

11. Read the result on the device.

  • Positive: The result is positive when line C and line T appear in the window. The order in which the lines appear is not important and even if a line is pale, the result indicated is accurate.
  • Negative: The result is negative when only line C appears in the window.
  • Invalid: The result is invalid if line C is not visible in the window.

Precautions to take

The following precautions should be taken:

  • Store rapid tests at room temperature, out of direct sunlight.
  • Keep rapid antigen test kits and solutions out of the reach of children and pets;
  • Never swallow the solutions and avoid contact with eyes and skin. Contact the Poison Control Centre This hyperlink will open in a new window. in case of accidental ingestion or direct skin exposure to the solutions in the kits;
  • Wash hands thoroughly after use.

Steps to take based on the results of a COVID-19 rapid screening test

If the result of a rapid screening test is positive,

If the result is negative, perform another test 48 hours later.

Get rapid tests free of charge

In local points of service

Rapid tests are offered free of charge at all local points of service for the entire population.

Last update: April 9, 2024


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