COVID-19 for health professionals: Testing, diagnosis and case reporting

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Testing

Canada is working with companies that are developing new and innovative testing technologies. We are also engaging with international regulators to share knowledge about new developments related to testing.

Before testing devices are authorized for sale in Canada, Health Canada assesses their safety, effectiveness and quality. For a test to be authorized by Health Canada, it must be submitted for review by the manufacturer.

Health Canada regulates the sale and import of commercial testing devices relating to COVID-19.

Most submissions to Health Canada are for 3 types of commercial testing devices:

Consult the list of testing devices that have been authorized to date for use related to COVID-19.

Only testing devices authorized by Health Canada can be imported or sold in Canada. Unauthorized tests may not produce accurate results, leading to potential misdiagnosis. COVID-19 tests are confirmed to be well supported by evidence indicating they will provide accurate and reliable results.

Diagnosis

Our National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) helped develop and verify the laboratory tests used to identify COVID-19. NML has worked closely with provinces and territories through the Canadian Public Health Laboratory Network to advance testing capacity in Canada. Additionally, NML scientists continue to investigate novel technologies to detect COVID-19, which can potentially enhance access to testing and increase ease of collection.

Serological tests do not detect the virus itself. Instead, they detect the antibodies produced in response to an infection. Serology tests are also known as antibody tests. Health Canada has published a resource on information for patients on COVID-19 serology testing.

Reporting

We do not accept reports from the public or individual health care providers. Reporting is completed by provincial or territorial health authorities.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) collaborates with provincial and territorial public health partners to collect information on COVID-19 cases in Canada. A detailed epidemiologic summary is available online for review.

Recommendations to public health care professionals

Increasing supply and distribution

Governments at the federal, provincial and territorial levels each play important roles in COVID-19 testing. The federal government has provided billions of dollars to help provincial and territorial governments:

Learn about rapid test kits that have been purchased and distributed in Canada.

Variants

The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the genetic variants of the virus that cause COVID-19. We are working with international partners, including the WHO, to better understand these variants and their impact.

PHAC has established definitions for COVID-19 variants. This will help Canadian public health experts use a common set of terms to facilitate common understanding and action across Canada.

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