COVID-19 rapid testing and screening in workplaces: Rapid tests for screening

If you are looking for rapid tests for your personal use, refer to where and how to get tested.

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Availability of rapid tests

At the outset of the pandemic, the availability of rapid tests was limited worldwide. The Government of Canada played a key role in securing rapid tests for people in Canada. We also ensured that rapid test kits were available for workers through the Rapid Testing for COVID-19 Screening in the Workplace initiative.

This initiative complemented provincial and territorial activities and aimed to:

The use of rapid tests as a screening tool is another layer of protection. It's not a substitute for other public health measures. These include staying aware of public health measures and alerts in your community and keeping up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations.

Types of tests

There are 2 kinds of tests: diagnostic and screening tests.

Diagnostic tests, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, can confirm if someone has COVID-19, with results available in 24 to 48 hours.

Screening, through the use of rapid detection tests (RADTs, or rapid tests), can potentially identify positive cases earlier (within 15 minutes) to help reduce the spread of the virus and prevent outbreaks. When used regularly, rapid tests may help identify individuals who may be infectious early on. Individuals can be pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic but still carry the virus and may transmit it to others.

Those receiving a positive rapid test result should contact their local public health authority to determine whether laboratory confirmatory testing is available. Please follow all isolation and quarantine advice given by public health officials.

Implementing a screening program in your workplace

Workplace screening initiatives are easy to put in place and testing is easy to do. Many provinces and territories have also adapted regulations to make it easier for employers. Thousands of organizations have implemented workplace screening initiatives. To put a workplace screening initiative in place, you must follow the regulations of your province and territory. Some provinces also have specific guidance on rapid testing.

Find out how to get rapid tests.

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