Rapid testing is a way to quickly identify infections and thereby reduce the risk of outbreaks. Rapid tests are easy to use and the results are available in minutes.

Despite the availability of rapid tests, healthcare workers subject to the mandatory testing directive are required to be tested as specified by their place of work.

When to use a rapid test

The risk of COVID-19 reinfection within 3 months is low. You do not need to self-isolate or do a test if you have had COVID-19 since December 20, 2021. However, if you have a fever, regardless of its cause, you must self-isolate until you have had no fever for 24 hours.

For further information, see the People adequately protected against COVID-19 page.

Person with symptoms

A person with symptoms should use a rapid test as soon as possible. If they don’t have access to a rapid test, they must self-isolate, following the instructions for people with COVID-19.

Children and some youth completing an isolation period

Children age 12 or under and young people under age 21 with special needs must take a rapid test to get out of their isolation period when they have COVID-19.

Materials

Everything you need is included in the test kit, except a timer or stopwatch. Be sure to have one handy before starting the test.

How to use the test

The how-to video Rapid testing This hyperlink will open in a new window. (in French only) explains the different steps to follow when taking a rapid test.

The Using rapid tests sheet (PDF 592 Kb) also provides the necessary explanations.

Precautions to take

  • 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 Center 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.

Reading the result

Two lines are used to read the result:

  • the control line, which is C;
  • the test line, which is T.

Only the result visible in the window 15 to 20 minutes after the start of the test is valid.

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.

What to do, depending on the result

  • If the result is positive, self-isolate by following the Instructions for people with COVID-19.
  • If the result is negative, self-isolate and do a second rapid test 24 to 36 hours later.
    • After the second rapid test:
      • If the result is positive, self-isolate by following the Instructions for people with COVID-19.
      • If the result is negative, you may resume your normal activities while following basic health instructions. If your symptoms persist or worsen, call 811. You will be directed to the appropriate resource.
      • If the result is invalid, do another rapid test using a new testing kit.
  • If the result is invalid, do another rapid test using a new testing kit.

The rapid tests can give a false positive result for people who are not infected or a false negative result for people who are infected. This is one of the reasons why people are asked to do a second test 24 hours after receiving a negative result.

Reporting the result

It is important to report the results of your rapid test by completing the self-reporting form for each rapid test performed, regardless of whether the result is positive or negative.

The rapid test results reported are used for statistical purposes only to track the use of these tests. The results you report will not be recorded in your proof of vaccination. They will not change the protection status of your vaccine passport.

Expiry dates for certain kits

Health Canada has extended the shelf life of PanbioTM and BD VeritorTM rapid tests.

To make it easier to read the expiry date, when you receive boxes, we suggest writing the new expiry date on a new white label and sticking the label over the current expiry date.

Expiry dates of PanbioTM kits

On September 9, 2021, Health Canada authorized the shelf life of PanbioTM kits, buffer solutions, and test cartridges to be extended from 12 months to 24 months. This means each kit now has a new expiry date. In other words, you must add 12 months to the expiry dates on kits, buffer vials, and test cartridges.

Expiry dates of BD VeritorTM kits

On October 18, 2021, Health Canada authorized the shelf life of BD VeritorTM kits to be extended from 12 months to 16 months.

Here is what is specifically authorized:

  • For all kits with an expiry date in 2021, you must add 10 months to the expiry date shown. For example, for a kit whose expiry date is June 6, 2021, the new date will be April 6, 2022.
  • For all kits with an expiry date in 2022, you must add 4 months to the expiry date shown. For example, for a kit whose expiry date is June 6, 2022, the new date will be October 6, 2022.

On October 7, 2021, Health Canada authorized the shelf life of the BD VeritorTM system to be extended, such that the analyzer is not required.

Managing waste from the tests

The waste generated by the rapid testing is not considered biomedical waste. Therefore, everything can be thrown in the garbage. This also includes personal protective equipment. The test leaflet and box can be recycled.