Rapid antigen tests are easy-to-use tests that detect certain proteins in the virus to confirm the presence of COVID-19. Results from these tests can be available in as little as 15 minutes.

Learn more about rapid antigen tests, including when it is recommended that you use one.

Where to access a free test

Rapid antigen tests are available through pharmacy and grocery retail locations, local public health units, as well as targeted distribution to high priority communities, while supplies last.

The distribution of free rapid antigen tests to the public is being discontinued and retailers are currently distributing their remaining supply. If your participating retail location is out of stock, another local retailer or your local public health unit may have tests available.

How to use your test

Rapid antigen tests are easy to use at home. You can either test yourself or have someone help you.

Start by reading the instructions that come with your kit. You can also read additional step by step instructions that include swabbing your mouth and nose or watch an instructional video.

Use these training resources to help you safely and accurately administer the tests at home. When the tests are used according to directions, they do not pose a health risk.

Please note: the liquid in the tubes can irritate your eyes and skin and is dangerous if swallowed. If the liquid accidentally touches your skin, wash it with plenty of water. If it touches your eyes or mouth, rinse with plenty of water for 15 minutes and contact your healthcare provider or the Ontario Poison Centre (1-800-268-9017) for assistance.

If you get a positive rapid antigen test result

If you test positive using a rapid antigen test, it is highly likely you have COVID‑19. You should isolate and follow the appropriate guidelines.

You do not need to get a PCR or rapid molecular test to confirm your rapid test result.

If you test positive and are at higher-risk of severe illness from COVID-19, you should contact a primary care provider, your local pharmacy or visit a clinical assessment centre (in select areas). You may benefit from available therapies to prevent severe illness.

You may be at higher risk of severe illness if you are:

  • 60 years of age or older
  • 18 years of age or older and are immunocompromised
  • 18 to 59 years old and at a higher risk of severe COVID-19 including having:
    • one or more underlying medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart or lung disease), or
    • inadequate immunity against COVID-19 from:
      • not receiving a full primary series of the COVID-19 vaccine
      • having received a full primary series but no COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 infection within the past 6 months

If you get a negative rapid antigen test result

If you have COVID‑19 symptoms and your test is negative, you may still have COVID‑19. You should:

  • use another rapid antigen test 24-48 hours after your first negative test. If this test is also negative, then you most likely do not have COVID‑19.
  • self-isolate until your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea)
  • contact a primary care provider, contact your local pharmacy or visit a clinical assessment centre (available in select areas only) to see if antiviral treatment is right for you.

Rapid Antigen Test fact sheets (PDFs)

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