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Can I get tested for COVID-19? What the rules are in each province and territory



TORONTO -- Experts say widespread COVID-19 testing is one of the most effective defences against a second wave of infections in Canada, but some provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, continue to fall behind their diagnostic targets.

Provinces are working to expand their testing criteria to include people with very mild or even abnormal COVID-19 symptoms. Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the move to increase testing for the infection will help spot possible community cases that are currently going undetected. She also said Canada's first antibody test will be rolled out as rapidly as possible to help determine how much of the population may have been infected.

As access to testing becomes more widespread, CTVNews.ca looks at the testing criteria in each province and territory.


BRITISH COLUMBIA

Who can get tested?: Testing is recommended for anyone in British Columbia with cold, influenza or COVID-19-like symptoms, even mild ones. According to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), an individual with no symptoms -- even if they are a contact of a confirmed case or a returning traveller -- does not require a test. B.C.'s COVID-19 self-assessment tool will help determine whether further assessment or testing is needed.

What happens next: British Columbians with symptoms or those who have come into contact with an infected individual are required to self-isolate for 10-14 days. If symptoms develop or worsen, residents are asked to contact their health-care provider or 811.

Antibody testing: Those who participate in an online survey through the B.C. Centre for Disease Control can sign up for antibody testing using LIAISON, a test method now approved by Health Canada once it becomes available in the province. The province is collaborating with Health Canada to assess the accuracy and performance of COVID-19 antibody testing before making it available.


ALBERTA

Who can get tested?: Alberta has expanded access to laboratory tests with testing available for any person exhibiting any symptom of COVID-19, returning travellers, asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, asymptomatic workers and residents at specific outbreak sites such as health care facilities, in addition to workers and residents of long-term care facilities. If an Albertan meets the testing criteria, the province recommends completing the self-assessment form and calling 811 for specific testing instructions.

What happens next: Albertans with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat are legally required to isolate for at least 10 days from the start of their symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer. Albertans are also legally required to isolate for 14 days if they recently returned from international travel.

Those who receive a positive test result are legally required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days. If they test negative but still have symptoms, they must self-isolate for 14 days. Those who test negative and have no known exposure to the virus are not required to isolate.

Antibody testing: According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), Alberta Precision Laboratories is in the final stages of validating multiple serology tests for COVID-19 antibodies. AHS said there is no timeline on when widespread antibody testing will be made available for Albertans, but an initial serological strategy could be in place by the end of May.


SASKATCHEWAN

Who can get tested?: In Saskatchewan, testing is strongly recommended for those who have new or worsening COVID-19 related symptoms. Residents do not need to have travelled internationally to get a referral for testing. Testing is also available for health-care workers, symptomatic First Nations and Metis, immunocompromised individuals, residents of long-term care homes, people in high-volume work settings, and anyone working outside the home who desires a test.

Saskatchewan public health officials may also advise certain people to be tested if they have been identified as being at risk following contact with a known or potentially infected person. Residents are advised to use the self-assessment tool to determine if they should be tested for COVID-19. Those who fit the criteria can obtain a referral to a community testing site by calling 811 or contacting their family physician.

What happens next: COVID-19 test results are currently available within approximately 24 hours of being received at the provincial laboratory. Patients with positive test results will be immediately notified of their results by medical authorities. Anyone who tests positive, is identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, or has returned from travelling abroad is mandated to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their potential exposure.

Antibody testing: The provincial government is looking into the antibody testing approved by Health Canada, but Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Saqib Shahab said the test likely won’t be available to residents for weeks or even months.


MANITOBA

Who can get tested?: Public health officials have expanded testing criteria to now include all symptomatic Manitobans with a fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat. Residents who believe they made have been infected with the virus are advised to take the self-assessment test ahead of visiting a screening location. The province is not recommending testing for people who do not have symptoms.

What happens next: Individuals with mild symptoms of a respiratory illness do not qualify for testing but are advised to self-isolate for 14 days from the day symptoms started until those symptoms are gone. Public health officials also recommend that all returning travellers, including those who have travelled within Canada, to self-isolate for 14 days.

Antibody testing: Manitoba will participate in the federal random testing effort using the LIAISON test method over the next two years. It has not yet been determined who will participate, when the tests will be available and for whom.


ONTARIO

Who can get tested?: Ontario residents who have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19 are asked to take the province's online self-assessment to determine their testing eligibility before calling Telehealth Ontario. Public Health Ontario (PHO) is not currently recommending asymptomatic people be tested. The province is encouraging residents to get tested and is expected to release a detailed testing strategy in the coming days.

What happens next: Those who have symptoms, think they may have been in contact with a positive case, or have travelled internationally are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Anyone over the age of 65 or with a chronic medical condition is also advised to stay home as much as possible.

If the case is not hospitalized and does not involve a health-care worker, the case can be considered resolved after the isolation period without a second test confirming a negative result.

Antibody testing: Ontario is helping fund CONCOR-1's clinical trial that will collect blood plasma from individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 to study its antibodies that may help fight the virus. A biomedical engineer at the University of Toronto says his team has also developed a synthetic antibody that could be ready for clinical trials in two months.


QUEBEC

Who can get tested?: Quebec residents who developed flu-like symptoms and those who don’t have symptoms but have been in close contact with someone who has received a positive COVID-19 test result are eligible for testing. Residents who think they may have contracted the virus are asked to contact 1-877-644 4545 before visiting a testing centre. Residents can also assess their symptoms using the Government of Canada COVID-19 symptom self-assessment tool.

What happens next: Quebecers can resume regular activities following a negative test result if they have completed self-isolation or no longer have symptoms. Those who do not have symptoms but are a returning traveller or may have been in contact with a COVID-19 case can resume regular activities after isolating for 14 days.

Antibody testing: Antibody studies are ongoing in Quebec, but health officials say more people infected with COVID-19 are needed as participants.Those interested in participating can sign up here.


NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR

Who can get tested?: Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to stay home and complete the 811 self-assessment tool. If the self-assessment tool is unavailable, Newfoundland and Labrador residents are asked to call 811 to determine if a test is necessary.

What happens next: Residents who test positive, are experiencing symptoms or have travelled outside of the province are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Antibody testing: There is currently no information on COVID-19 antibody testing in the province.

NEW BRUNSWICK

Who can get tested?: New Brunswickers showing two or more symptoms of COVID-19are asked to complete the online self-assessment tool and contact 811 for further direction. Testing facilities are not walk-in and require an appointment before visiting.

What happens next: Residents who have symptoms or have travelled outside of the province are asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days until symptoms disappear or a test result comes back negative. Those who have no symptoms but may have been exposed to COVID-19 do not need to self-isolate but are asked to self-monitor.

Antibody testing: There is currently no information on COVID-19 antibody testing in the province.


NOVA SCOTIA

Who can get tested?: Nova Scotians who have COVID-19 related symptoms are asked to call 811 for further assessment. If an in-person assessment or test is required, 811 will refer a centre. Residents who do not have symptoms are not being tested but are asked to self-isolate if they think they may have been infected.

What happens next: Those who are awaiting test results, have tested positive, have tested negative but had close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have COVID-19, have been told by Public Health that they may have been exposed to an infected person, or are returning from travel outside the province are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Antibody testing: Halifax-based research company MedMira has developed a COVID-19 antibody test and is ready to begin surveillance programs. The test is currently under review by the FDA and EUA but has not been approved by Health Canada.


PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND

Who can get tested?: Testing in Prince Edward Island is currently focused on individuals who have returned from travel outside of the province, have had contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or have developed symptoms of the virus. Residents who fall under this criteria are asked to fill out the province's self-assessment form to help determine if they should be tested.

What happens next: Residents who have tested positive, believe they may have been in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or have travelled outside the province must self-isolate for 14 days.

Infected residents are considered recovered if it has been 14 days since symptoms began, they do not have a fever and their symptoms have improved. If a case was asymptomatic, health officials use the date of the test to start the 14 days.

Antibody testing: Antibody tests for people who have recovered from COVID-19 are being discussed in the province.


YUKON

Who can get tested?: Yukoners who have travelled outside of the territory, have had close contact with a symptomatic person who recently travelled, are a close contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19 or have flu-like symptoms are eligible for testing. Residents are asked to fill out the territory's self-assessment tool to help determine whether they should be tested and can call 811 if they have any questions.

What happens next: Anyone who has recently travelled from another country, province or territory by road or air, has symptoms or is awaiting test results must self-isolate for 14 days. Those who have also had close contact to a confirmed case of COVID-19 are also asked to self-isolate and monitor for symptoms.

Antibody testing: There is currently no information on COVID-19 antibody testing in the territory.


NORTHWEST TERRITORIES

Who can get tested?: Anyone in the Northwest Territories experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms are asked to fill out the online self-assessment tool to help determine if they should visit a health care provider for further COVID-19 related assessment and testing.

What happens next: People who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are waiting for their test results must follow the directions of their health care provider, including a mandatory self-isolation at home for 14 days. Residents entering from another country or elsewhere in Canada must also self-isolate for 14 days in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River or Fort Smith. No N.W.T. resident is allowed to self-isolate in a small community.

Antibody testing: There is currently no information on COVID-19 antibody testing in the territory.


NUNAVUT

Who can get tested?: Nunavut residents who have developed symptoms and have travelled to a region with known cases of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who has are asked to stay home and contact their health care professional. The territory's online self-assessment tool can help determine whether a coronavirus test is needed.

What happens next: Anyone who has symptoms or is under investigation as a possible case is required to self-isolate for 14 days. Residents who have travelled outside of the territory must self-isolate at government-designated quarantine sites in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa or Yellowknife before they are allowed to return. Family members and those living with people who are self-isolating, but did not travel themselves, should self-monitor for symptoms.

Antibody testing: There is currently no information on COVID-19 antibody testing in the territory.



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