As many as 60 Ontario pharmacies will offer free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic individuals starting Friday, with more locations offering tests in the upcoming weeks.
Most of the testing locations are in areas where the newest COVID-19 infections are being detected including in Toronto and area, Peel Region, and the Ottawa area. There is also a testing center opening at a Shopper’s Drug Mart in Hunstville, where Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott made the announcement today.
No Niagara locations have been announced yet. The closest testing centre to the region is in Mississauga.
“Partners like Shoppers Drug Mart, Rexall, and independent pharmacies have played a tremendous role throughout this pandemic,” said Ford. “We rely on our pharmacists for our flu shots, prescriptions, and important health advice for ourselves and our families. It makes sense to engage them as key partners in delivering more COVID-19 testing.”
Free COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic people
The free testing is for people who are not yet exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Tests can be set up by appointment only at participating pharmacies. Individuals will undergo pre-screening prior to testing and must follow current COVID-19 health measures when entering the pharmacy.
“Expanding testing to pharmacies is part of our plan to ensure that we are ready for future waves of COVID-19,” said Elliott.
In addition to these testing locations, three Ontario hospitals will be offering saliva testing this week, including Women’s College, Mount Sinai, and University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital. Saliva testing is less invasive and makes it easier to test people, especially children.
The testing initiative is part of Ontario’s fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe, Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19. Details on the plan will continue to be released in the upcoming days by the provincial government.
“This is a team effort, we are moving mountains, we are pioneering a lot of firsts, we are using every tool in our toolbox because we know what we’re up against and we won’t be caught off guard. With an army of pharmacists, nurses, doctors, and all 14.5 million people in this province, we will be ready for the future,” said Ford.
Flu testing expanded
Government of Ontario news release
List of current participating pharmacies
Press conference video
Article on the flu immunization campaign