COVID-19 - As Ontario reopens, learn about public health and workplace safety measures. Learn about the COVID-19 vaccination and service disruptions.

COVID-19 Testing Options and Your Test Results

If you test positive on a rapid antigen test, you're required to self-isolate and book a follow-up COVID-19 test at a testing centre within 48 hours to confirm your results.

Who should get tested for COVID-19

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate and get tested, even if you're fully vaccinated or previously tested positive for COVID-19. You should also get tested if you're a high-risk contact of a positive case or if you're directed to do so by your health care provider or Public Health.

It's important to remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn't mean you haven't been exposed to COVID-19. You can still develop symptoms days after your test was taken.

If your test comes back negative, but you begin to develop COVID-19 symptoms, even if they're mild or your symptoms worsen, you need to be re-tested. This is important so we can all protect the health and safety of our loved ones and our community from whatever infection you may have.

If you have concerns about an exposure to the virus while travelling, we recommend you call the Niagara Region Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 or speak to your health care provider.

Which type of test is required

If you have symptoms or are a high-risk contact of someone with COVID-19, or you have tested positive on a rapid antigen test

Book an appointment to get a COVID-19 test right away. A standard COVID-19 test is a laboratory-PCR test. Most testing locations use a long, flexible swab to collect a sample through your nose, which is sent to a lab for testing. This is the most accurate type of test for COVID-19. Learn about the different kinds of COVID-19 tests.

If you don't have symptoms

Rapid antigen test

Rapid antigen testing may be available to use for screening on individuals who don't have symptoms. If a person has a positive rapid antigen test, they're required to get a standard test (laboratory-PCR test) to confirm a COVID-19 infection and isolate until the confirmed lab results are received. Rapid testing doesn't replace public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene.

Rapid antigen testing may be used in:

  • Long-term care homes screening for staff, students and essential caregivers
  • Some workplaces may have access to free rapid screening test kits. See if your organization is eligible for these free antigen point-of-care test kits and learn how to set up a testing program.
  • Some pharmacies offer this test for a fee. Call ahead to see if the test is available and if you need an appointment.

Rapid molecular test

This test works for people who do and don't have symptoms. Some walk-in clinics may offer this free test. Call ahead to ask if this is offered and if you need an appointment.

Self-test kits

Self-test kits are rapid tests that are available for purchase and can be completed at home or elsewhere. Self-test kits are only for individuals who don't have symptoms and haven't been exposed to COVID-19.

If you test positive on a self-test, you must book a follow-up COVID-19 test within 48 hours. Self-isolate until you receive your confirmed result.

Take-home PCR self-collection kits

Some individuals may have access to take-home polymerase chain reaction (PCR) self-collection kits, where they are able to complete the self-collection at home and drop the kit off at a location in their community to be processed. Instructions on how to complete a deep nasal kit, combined throat and both nostrils kit or a combined oral and deep nasal kit are available to support the use of these kits.

Taking your child for a COVID-19 test

There are now less invasive testing procedures available. When you take your child for a test, you may ask for the cheek/nose testing method.

A video about nasal swabs for kids is available to watch with your child to help understand how the test will go.

Where to get tested

You can also get tested at the following clinics. You don't need to be a patient at these clinics to receive a COVID-19 test. This is not a full list of testing locations.

  • Fort Erie: Fort Erie Medical Clinic drive-through testing by appointment only. To book an appointment, email niagaramedicalwellness@gmail.com.
  • Fort Erie: Dr. Scher / Dr. Marchi offer PCR testing in the parking lot, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 - 10 a.m. For a testing referral, call 905-688-8248 and press 7 then 2.
  • St. Catharines: PromptDoc Clinic by appointment or walk-in. Walk-in testing available during specific hours only.
  • St. Catharines: Lifelabs is offering COVID-19 testing by appointment only, on Saturdays between 1 - 4 p.m. Book online or call 1-877-313-4982.

If you were tested because of having COVID-19 symptoms, even if they were mild symptoms, you must self-isolate while waiting for your test results.

A select number of pharmacies in Niagara offer testing by appointment only to those without COVID-19 symptoms. Other restrictions also apply. See criteria for getting tested at a participating pharmacy.

Find a participating pharmacy near you.

How to get your COVID-19 test results

Ask the health care professional taking your swab / COVID-19 test how you'll be receiving your test results.

  • Niagara Health Assessment Centre

    If you were tested at a Niagara Health COVID-19 assessment centre, you'll receive directions on how to access lab results online. See Provincial portal, Niagara Health Navigator or MyChart below.

    If you were tested at a Niagara Health COVID-19 assessment centre, and don't have a current Ontario health card, contact your health care provider (doctor's office) or the Release of Information Office at the site where you were tested.

    Contact the Release of Information Office at 905-378-4647 ext. 52451.

  • Provincial portal

    Ontario has a user-friendly, online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results.

    If results state, "Unable to post positive / negative results on this website or results unavailable on this site," your results may be available in another location. To find the other location, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Previous results". Verify the results in this section and match the date you had your COVID-19 test.

    By offering faster and secure access to test results on your computer or mobile device, this portal will help ease pressures on public health units and frontline workers to provide this information so they can better focus on containing COVID-19.

    Repeated login attempts may result in being locked out of the portal until midnight the next day.

  • Niagara Health Navigator

    Check your results by downloading a mobile app, available through Niagara Health.

    1. Download Niagara Health Navigator in the Google Play store or Apple app store
    2. Under COVID-19 select "Self Assessment and Lab Results" then "Check your Lab Results"
    3. Enter details as they appear on the Health Card
    4. Select "Verify Patient"
  • MyChart

    If can take a while to get your MyChart PIN. We recommend you sign up as soon as possible.

    Register for MyChart

    1. Visit MyChart and complete the online form. You must have a valid Ontario health card and be 13 years of age or older.
    2. Upload a clear photo of your Ontario health card
    3. Take a photo of yourself holding your health card and upload the photo
    4. Activate your account. You will receive an email with a link and four digit PIN within one business day.

    Find COVID-19 lab results

    1. Login to MyChart with your four digit PIN number and on the right hand side in the yellow area, create an account
    2. Click 'Clinical Records' on the left hand side, then click 'South West Ontario' and then click 'Microbiology'
    3. Click on the test description. If you're unsure which test describes COVID-19, click the test whose specimen source is Nasopharyngeal Swab.
    4. View your results
  • LifeLabs

    If you know your swab went to a LifeLabs facility, you can access your results by registering for their free, secure service at my results.

Public Health doesn't have access to your COVID-19 test results. If you're having difficulty accessing your results or need a paper copy, call 905-378-4647 ext. 52451 and ask for the Release of Information Office. Watch this video to learn how to find your COVID-19 test results.

Your COVID-19 test results

If you received a positive test result from a COVID-19 test

Anyone with a positive test result from a COVID-19 test (non-rapid) will be contacted by Public Health to determine the period of self-isolation. In general, there is a minimum 10 day self-isolation period after symptoms started. See full instructions for positive COVID-19 cases and high-risk contacts.

Instructions regarding your test results from a rapid test are different. Review additional details below.

If you received a negative test result from a COVID-19 test 

You currently You're fully vaccinated or previously tested positive within the last 90 days and have since been cleared
You're not fully vaccinated
Have symptoms You can leave self-isolation with a negative COVID-19 test result when you have been free of fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications), free of vomiting or diarrhea for 48 hours AND your other symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.

You can leave self-isolation with a negative COVID-19 test result when you have been free of fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications), free of vomiting or diarrhea for 48 hours AND your other symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours.

If you were tested because you're a high-risk contact of someone with COVID-19, you're required to self-isolate for 10 days following your last interaction with that person, even if your test result is negative. It's recommended to get tested on day seven from your last interaction.

Don't have symptoms, but you're a high-risk contact of a positive case

For the next 10 days, you should self-monitor for symptoms and get retested on day seven or earlier if you develop any symptoms. Unless directed by public health, you do not need to self isolate if you're a vaccinated high-risk contact that has no symptoms. 

You're required to self-isolate for 10 days following your last interaction with that person. It's recommended to get tested on day seven or earlier if you develop symptoms.

If your test result is negative, you're still required to remain in isolation for the full 10 day duration.

Learn about when children can return to school / child care.

If you have travelled internationally, you will still need to self-isolate for at least 14 days from your return to Canada, even with a negative test result. There are some exemptions to quarantine for eligible fully vaccinated travellers.

Rapid test results

If you test positive on a rapid test

There are two different rapid tests. If you test positive on any rapid test, you must self-isolate. If it's a positive rapid antigen test, you must book a follow-up test to confirm the result. You are required to get the follow-up test within 48 hours of receiving your positive result.

If you test negative on a rapid molecular test

If you have no symptoms and were not exposed to a person with COVID-19, you don't need to self-isolate.

If you were exposed to a person with COVID-19, you must book a follow-up test seven days after your last interaction with the confirmed individual. See "Where to get tested".

Reporting

Positive rapid antigen test results, such as Panbio, are recommended to be reported to Public Health.

Organizations / workplaces are required to report confirmed PCR tests and positive rapid molecular tests, such as ID Now to Public Health.

Visit our online reporting portal.

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