Ontario Guidance

Written By CDL Rapid Screening Consortium (Super Administrator)

Updated at April 30th, 2021

Antigen Screening Guidance - This document is intended for individuals or organizations conducting rapid antigen screening in Ontario. This guidance provides basic information only. It is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or legal advice.

Provincial Testing Guidance - This document sets out general guidance respecting testing to help guide decision making regarding COVID-19 testing and includes updates on point-of-care testing and interpretation of results, as well as COVID-19 variants of concern.

Considerations for Privately Initiated Testing - This document is intended for individuals or organizations that choose to participate in private COVID-19 testing outside of the public health care system in Ontario

Updates as of March 9, 2021

  • Specimen collection for POCT antigen tests may be done by health professionals, or other trained individuals, in accordance with the manufacturer’s label.
    • There remains an expectation that trained individuals will oversee/perform COVID-19 point-of-care testing taking place as part of the Provincial Antigen Screening Program (PASP).
  • Any person who performs a COVID-19 point-of-care antigen test must report any preliminary positive results to the Medical Officer of Health of the Public Health Unit within which the person being tested resides.
  • Specimen collection for POCT antigen tests may also be done by the person being tested (‘self-swabbing’) if a trained individual, including a health care professional (regulated or unregulated) is supervising the self-swabbing.
    • Any individual supervising self-swabbing must consult the self-swabbing training resource developed by Ontario Health in collaboration with Public Health Ontario and ensure they have the appropriate knowledge, skills, and judgment to provide appropriate self-swabbing oversight, including how to operate the device, PPE requirements, and how to safely dispose of waste.


  • As of February 24, 2021, all testing is done using Abbott Panbio [or BD Veritor] screens.
  • Prior to initiating screenings, organizations must contact their local public health unit to make them aware that they will be engaging in rapid screening


  • Rapid antigen screening may only be performed on asymptomatic individuals without close contact to someone with COVID-19.
  • Individuals who have previously been infected with and recovered from COVID-19 should not undergo repeat testing/antigen screening, unless otherwise directed by local public health or their health care provider as per their symptom and exposure history.

Specimen Collection

  • Nasopharyngeal Swab (NPS) is the specimen collection type with highest sensitivity 
  • Nasal Swab has also been authorized for the Abbott Panbio rapid antigen screen in Ontario
  • Alternate specimen collection types are acceptable, including a combined swab of throat and both nares or a deep nasal swab
  • For asymptomatic individuals in high prevalence areas specimen collection and screening should be performed 2-3 times per week
  • For low prevalence areas, specimen collection and screening should be performed 1-2 times per week

Conducting the Test

  • All rapid antigen screening must be performed in a licensed specimen collection centre or by certain persons that are exempt from the licensing requirements if participating in the Provincial Antigen Screening Program
  • A positive result on a rapid antigen screening test is considered a preliminary positive and should be followed up with a laboratory-PCR test to act as a confirmatory test

Reporting Requirements

  • All preliminary positive COVID-19 tests performed must be reported to the local public health unit

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