rapid test at pharmacies

Ontario might soon offer symptomatic COVID-19 testing inside pharmacies

Ontario’s Ministry of Health will soon allow pharmacies to conduct COVID-19 tests on symptomatic individuals for the first time—as early as this week, reports suggest.

In a press conference, Premier Doug Ford confirmed that PCR tests could be performed safely without putting other customers at risk, as there would be “protocols in place”, including masking policies, proper signage, and dedicated lines, so people could be tested at a distance from other shoppers.

A government official confirmed with CP24 that the program would be free and voluntary for subjects and open to any willing pharmacy in Ontario. The news outlet also obtained an internal document sent to Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacy employees, detailing how pharmacies will reportedly be able to “accept symptomatic high-risk close contacts of those already diagnosed with COVID-19 and those with symptoms, by appointment only.”

Pharmacies will also be able to serve as drop-off points for at-home tests (if they choose to do so).

Up to 138 Shoppers Drug Mart locations that have already approved asymptomatic COVID-19 testing could begin offering appointments for symptomatic Ontarians as early as Wednesday—although the news hasn’t been welcomed across social media, with some calling for a pause on the program until the risks are assessed.

Some are even suggesting that they’ll change pharmacies if this goes through.

Meanwhile, Ontario reported 481 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 512 cases on Wednesday. Tuesday represents an approximate 9% increase from the 441 cases reported this time last week. The seven-day average of daily cases now sits at 579 (compared to 492 from last Tuesday). Out of Tuesday’s new cases, 292 are in individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have an unknown vaccination status and 189 are in fully vaccinated individuals.

There are currently 351 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, with 109 patients in ICU due to COVID-related critical illnesses and 82 patients in ICU on a ventilator due to COVID-related critical illnesses.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 22,733,297 doses of approved COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Ontario; 88.8% of people 12+ in Ontario have received at least one dose and 85.6% of people 12+ in Ontario are fully vaccinated.

Click here for more COVID-19 Ontario news and here for where you could get rapid COVID-19 tests in Toronto (including a new drive-thru option).