COVID-19 Testing and Care Information

⚠ Call 8-1-1 and connect with a Health811 registered nurse day or night for free, secure and confidential health advice.

⚠ Exposed to COVID-19 or looking for guidance? Visit our isolation instructions for COVID-19 web page. Take this screener to determine if you are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and may benefit from treatments.

Last revised: January 3, 2024

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Rapid antigen tests for the general public

To support ongoing access to COVID-19 testing this fall, in particular for people who may be eligible for COVID-19 treatment, Ottawa Public Health (OPH) is making rapid antigen test (RAT) kits available to Ottawa residents, free of charge. Ottawa residents can access RAT kits from various locations across the City. Local health care partners and community agencies who provide health care services to Ottawa residents can use this link to find if they are eligible to access free rapid antigen tests: Provincial Antigen Screening Program | COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Ontario

Rapid antigen test pick-up locations

Ottawa residents can access rapid antigen test (RAT) kits from various locations across the City. Please use the map below to find a location closer to you. Hours and dates of operation of the Community Clinics can be found on our web site. Please visit our Neighbourhood Health and Wellness Hubs web page for locations and hours. 



Each rapid antigen test (RAT) kit will be accompanied by a printed factsheet that will include guidance on where to access information on who is eligible for treatment (Paxlovid) and where to get treatment, and what to do if you have respiratory symptoms or if your RAT is positive. This public-facing factsheet, developed by the province is available in 26 languages, including: English, FrenchSomaliArabicSimplified Chinese, and Spanish. Individuals who are at higher risk of severe COVID-19 and test positive on the RAT are encouraged to speak with their primary healthcare provider or local pharmacist about treatment.

Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits contain 5 to 25 individual tests (based on brand) and detailed instructions on how to use them. All Ottawa residents are eligible for one kit per household and additional kits can be provided for larger households, based on supply.  

For more information on rapid antigen tests (RATs), please visit the province’s website:   https://www.ontario.ca/page/rapid-testing-home-use   

In addition to offering Rapid Antigen Tests, Ottawa Public Health will be providing medical masks to support the community's health and safety efforts. Anyone collecting a rapid test kit has the option to take a medical mask. Residents are encouraged to pick up one or two masks for themselves and their family members. Masks will be provided while supplies last.

Can I get a PCR test?

COVID-19 PCR testing is currently only available to eligible individuals, these include people living and working in the highest risk settings (like hospitals, health care settings, and congregate living) and priority groups (like First Nations, Inuit, Métis). Read the information below to see if you are eligible for a PCR test.

Who qualifies for a PCR COVID-19 test

If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to an assessment centre or a COVID-19 Care and Testing Clinic. Go to the nearest emergency department or call 9-1-1.

If you are at higher risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19, you are eligible for PCR or rapid molecular testing and should seek out testing as soon as possible if you develop symptoms.

For the most up-to-date information on PCR testing, including locations in Ottawa, please visit the province's website.

If you have symptoms but are not eligible for testing, assume you have COVID-19 and follow the steps for what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Book a PCR COVID-19 test

Many local assessment centres have now closed. PCR testing and access to antiviral therapy is available through many local pharmacies, visit the province's website for more information.

For assessment of COVID-19 symptoms or respiratory illness, please visit your primary care provider or go to a walk-in clinic.

East Ottawa Kids COVID Care Clinic - 4289 Innes Road, Orléans

⚠ Please read: who qualifies for PCR COVID-19 testing before booking an appointment.

  • Ages: Children and youth between two months and 17 years old
  • Hours:
    • Monday to Friday, 5pm to 9pm
    • Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 1pm
  • Services provided:
    • COVID-19 testing for children and youth (two months to 17 years) and other members of their household who meet the current testing criteria.
    • In-person consultation with a physician for children and youth (2 months to 17 years) with new symptoms such as fever, cough, vomiting, belly pain, earache, or sore throat.
  • Location: Ottawa Medical Group (2nd floor) 4289 Innes Road, Orléans K1E 0A8

Please only book one appointment at a single site and cancel your appointment if you plan on no longer attending.

To keep our communities safe, Ottawa’s assessment centres and testing sites follow all guidelines mandated by the provincial government and public health experts. Please note the information on this page is designed to guide you and your family in making a decision to book a test, it does not guarantee you will be tested on site / receive a test on site. Testing is subject to assessment by a clinician on site. All sites have professional, caring and highly trained staff to make your testing experience quick, safe and as comfortable as possible. If you think you need a test, please book an appointment and get it done today. Testing is subject to eligibility requirements, assessment centres and care clinics reserve the right to refuse a test based on their assessment of the individual’s symptoms, exposure, unique situation, and based on public health guidance.

  • Test results: If you cannot access your test results via the provincial portal, you can call 613-566-4470
COVID-19 CHEO Assessment Centre - 401 Smyth Road, Ottawa

⚠ Please read: who qualifies for PCR COVID-19 testing before booking an appointment.

  • Ages:
    • For a Do-It-Yourself Test Kit, parents can test children two months of age and older. Older children and teens can test themselves with parental support. This service is not available for adults through CHEO.
  • Hours:
    • Every day, 7:30am to 8pm

Please only book one appointment at a single site and cancel your appointment if you plan on no longer attending.

To keep our communities safe, Ottawa’s assessment centres and testing sites follow all guidelines mandated by the provincial government and public health experts. Please note the information on this page is designed to guide you and your family in making a decision to book a test, it does not guarantee you will be tested on site / receive a test on site. Testing is subject to assessment by a clinician on site. All sites have professional, caring and highly trained staff to make your testing experience quick, safe and as comfortable as possible. If you think you need a test, please book an appointment and get it done today. Testing is subject to eligibility requirements, assessment centres and care clinics reserve the right to refuse a test based on their assessment of the individual’s symptoms, exposure, unique situation, and based on public health guidance.

Getting tested at a pharmacy

Participating pharmacies offer various testing options to eligible individuals, including:

  • in-store lab-based PCR testing, by appointment only
  • self-collection lab-based PCR kits, with no appointment necessary. Eligible individuals will be able to pick up a lab-based PCR self-collection kit at a participating pharmacy, conduct the specimen collection at-home, and then return the collected specimen to the pharmacy to be sent for processing in a lab

Participating pharmacies can choose which of these testing options are offered at their stores and not every participating pharmacy site will offer all services.

Find a participating pharmacy

Akausivik Inuit Family Heath Team 

Note: For Inuit wishing to access COVID-19 assessment and testing, please contact Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team for an appointment. Services offered in Inuktitut and English.

Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team (AIFHT)  

24 Selkirk Street, Suite 300
Telephone: 613-740-0999 
Open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

 

Symptoms of COVID-19

If you have symptoms but are not eligible for testing, assume you have COVID-19 and follow the steps for what to do if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

 

COVID-19 symptoms 

Type

Symptoms

(new or worsening, and not related to other known causes or conditions you already have)

Most common symptoms of COVID-19 

  • Fever and/or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decrease of loss of taste and smell

Other symptoms of COVID-19

 

 

  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy/congested nose
  • Muscle aches/Join pain
  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Extreme tiredness

 

What to do after getting tested for COVID-19

  • Self-isolate and follow the instructions in this COVID-19 assessment tool
  • You will get a recommendation on what to do next.
  • You can also take it on behalf of someone else.
How to access PCR COVID-19 test results

Can I get antiviral treatment?

Use Ontario’s antiviral screener tool to help determine if you should be assessed for treatment.

Antiviral treatments for COVID-19 can help prevent serious illness if taken quickly after symptoms start (within the first 5 days). They are available in Ontario for free to anyone with a prescription. A health care provider, such as a physician, nurse practitioner or participating pharmacist, can determine if treatment is right for you, which includes whether you are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms.

You may be at higher risk if you are any of the following:

  • 60 years of age or older
  • 18 years of age or older and are immunocompromised
  • 18 to 59 years old and at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 including having:
    • one or more underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart or lung disease), or
    • inadequate immunity against COVID-19 from:
      • not receiving a full primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine
      • having received a full primary series but no COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 infection within the past six months

The use of antivirals in children under the age of 18 is not routinely recommended. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis, such as for children who are severely immunocompromised and/or have multiple risk factors. Speak with a physician or nurse practitioner or contact a clinical assessment centre to learn more.

Ontario is now making it easier for eligible individuals with a prescription to access antivirals by expanding dispensing locations to include participating pharmacies across the province. A list of pharmacies that are dispensing Paxlovid will be available at Ontario.ca/Antivirals as of April 13, 2022.

If you have one of more of the following moderate to severe symptoms you should immediately call 911 or go to the emergency department: 

  • Severe difficulty breathing (struggling for each breath, can only speak in single words);
  • Severe chest pain (constant tightness or crushing sensation); 
  • Feeling confused or unsure of where you are; 
  • Losing consciousness.

Resources:

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 testing

Is there a possibility that a person who gets the virus once can get it again?

Most people who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection will have some immunity to protect against future infection or to make a future infection less severe. However, reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is possible. For this reason, NACI (the National Advisory Committee on Immunization) recommends that COVID-19 vaccines be offered to individuals who have previously been infected with COVID-19. 

Although the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada are effective, protection from COVID-19 takes time to develop. You should not assume that you will be protected right away. Also, no vaccine is 100% effective - there will be a small percentage of people who will remain unprotected despite being vaccinated and vaccines may not protect against all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Because of ongoing COVID-19 transmission in the community and because the vaccines will not protect everyone, it is therefore important that you continue to follow public health measures (e.g., physical distancing, avoiding close contact with non-household members, wearing a mask, staying home when sick, and practicing hand hygiene) to keep each other safe, whether you have been vaccinated or not.   

Should I get re-tested once I have recovered from COVID-19?

Ottawa Public Health and the Province of Ontario do not recommend re-testing after finishing isolation unless new symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19 develop after isolation has ended. Another test is not needed to discontinue isolation for those who have recovered from COVID-19. 

 Most individuals can discontinue self-isolation when: 

  • They have completed their required self- isolation period since symptoms first appeared or positive test date if asymptomatic AND

  • They have no fever (without the use of fever reducing medication) AND

  • Symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms)

Why am I still testing positive for COVID-19 after my self-isolation period has ended? Am I still contagious?

PCR Test after infection:

Continuing to test positive after recovery from COVID-19 infection is common, with some people still testing positive on a PCR test for weeks or months after their initial infection. This is because the PCR test is detecting viral remains that are no longer living and unable to cause infection. This means you are no longer contagious. Therefore, it is not recommended that individuals without symptoms undergo PCR testing for at least 90 days after the initial COVID-19 infection. If the person develops new symptoms of COVID-19 within that 90 day period, consultation with a health care provider is recommended to help with the decision on whether to do further testing. Note that individuals who develop new symptoms of COVID-19 should complete the provincial screening tool and follow the isolation and mask use instructions provided.

Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) after infection:

Rapid antigen tests (RAT) are generally less sensitive to the virus than PCR tests and work better in symptomatic people.  The sensitivity of the test can be increased by doing a combined oral (mouth) and nasal (nose) swab, and repeating the test 24-48 hours after the initial test. If a person tests positive using a rapid antigen test, they should follow isolation and mask use guidelines.

By 10 days after developing symptoms or testing positive (20 days if immune compromised), there are very few people who have any remaining viable virus – which means they are no longer contagious. 

After testing positive for COVID-19 on either a PCR test or RAT, individuals can begin participating in RAT screening programs (e.g., workplace programs that test for COVID-19 infection regularly in those without symptoms) 30 days after the initial COVID-19 infection. If the person develops new symptoms of COVID-19 during the 30 day period following a positive RAT, consultation with a health care provider is recommended to help with the decision on whether to do further testing. Note that individuals who develop new symptoms of COVID-19 should complete the provincial screening tool and follow the isolation and mask use instructions provided.

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