If you have one or more symptoms of COVID-19 or think you may have been exposed to the virus, take the Ministry of Health’s self-assessment to find out if you should get tested.
Find out what you need to do if you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19.
OHIP coverage is not required for COVID-19 assessment or testing.
Focus on symptoms that are new, worsening or different from an individual’s baseline health status (usual state).
Most common symptoms: fever and/or chills, new or worsening cough including croup, shortness of breath, and /or a decrease or loss of taste or smell.
Other symptoms in adults: fatigue, lethargy or malaise (feeling unwell or tired) and/or myalgias (muscle aches and pains.
Other symptoms in children: nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and/or diarrhea.
Additional COVID-19 symptoms could include: sore throat, runny nose, stuffy nose, abdominal pain, headache, pink eye, and decreased/lack of appetite.
Who may be tested at a Testing & Assessment Centre?
Testing Centres will only test those who fall within the Ontario provincial guidelines. This includes individuals who:
- Are showing COVID-19 symptoms
- Have been identified by Public Health as being at risk due to an exposure to a case of COVID-19
- Are a resident or work in a setting that is in Outbreak, at the direction of Public Health
- Are workers (including support workers), visitors (including caregivers) and government inspectors of Long-Term Care homes
- Are having surgery/procedure at Hamilton Health Sciences or St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. Your care team will inform you if a test is required.
- Temporary Foreign Workers
- An individual who identifies as Indigenous or a person travelling into remote/isolated First Nation and Indigenous communities for work purposes
- Have written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager, OHIP (and one accompanying caregiver)
- Received a COVID Alert app exposure notification
- Received a positive point-of-care test (such as a rapid test) and require a follow-up lab-based test to confirm results
Individuals who cannot be tested at a Testing and Assessment Centre:
- Individuals who are seeking clearance for travel or for attending sporting events/entertainment venues
- Individuals who are not vaccinated and are required to complete regular screening for work purposes
If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to the Testing & Assessment Centre. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911.
Who may be tested at a participating pharmacy?
Individuals who are seeking clearance for travel or for attending sporting events/entertainment venues must get tested at a participating pharmacy or lab. There is a cost for this test.
Individuals who do not have symptoms, have not been in close physical contact with someone who currently has COVID-19, are not part of a specific outbreak investigation, and any of the following individuals can get tested at a participating pharmacy:
- Long-term care and other congregate settings
- a resident, worker (including support workers), visitor (including caregivers), or government inspector of a long-term care home
- a person who identifies as Indigenous
- a person travelling into remote/isolated First Nation and Indigenous communities for work purposes
- Other reasons
- a person who needs out-of-country medical services, and one accompanying caregiver (with written prior approval from the OHIP General Manager as requested by a referring physician )
- campers and staff who plan to attend an overnight summer camp in 2021
* Targeted testing populations are subject to change
Who should go the Emergency Department?
People who are experiencing at least one of the symptoms of COVID-19 and have any of the following signs of severe illness:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Lethargy or drowsiness
If you are not well enough to take personal transportation, call 911.
The following infants and children should also be assessed in the emergency department:
- Infants under 3 months of age with fever or trouble breathing or appear unwell
- Children and infants over 3 months of age with any of the following:
- Fever longer than 7 days
- Fast breathing or trouble breathing
- Bluish skin colour
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Not waking up or not interacting
- Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
- Fever with a rash
- Constant vomiting
- Immune compromised with a fever
Unsure if you should be tested for COVID-19?
People who are unsure if they should be tested for COVID-19 should:
- Take the Ministry of Health’s self-assessment
- Call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 and speak with a registered nurse who will advise whether you will require further care or testing
- Call their primary care provider
Testing & Assessment Centres in Hamilton
Booking an appointment
Testing is done by appointment only, no walk-ins.
- Book an appointment online at www.HamiltonCovidTest.ca
New appointments will come online as they become available.
If there are few or no appointments available to book online and we kindly ask you to check the website again in a few hours. We release any appointments available for booking online as they are identified.
- If you need assistance scheduling an appointment, call the COVID Support Service Centre operated by St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton at (289) 778-1465. If you have questions about testing, contact Hamilton COVID-19 Hotline at (905) 974-9848.
Cancel your appointment as soon as possible if you do not plan on getting tested: www.stjoes.ca/coronavirus/covid-19-test-cancellation
Locations and details
St. Joe's Mountain COVID-19 Testing Centre at Mohawk College
135 Fennell Avenue West, Hamilton N Wing. Please use the entrance on West 5th Street.
Hours of Operation:
8 am to 10:30 pm Monday to Friday
8 am to 4 pm Saturday & Sunday
Access: booked appointment only
Hamilton Health Sciences COVID-19 Assessment Centre at the West End Clinic
690 Main Street West, Hamilton
Follow signage for Assessment Centre entrance
Hours of operation: 9 am to 5 pm daily
Access: booked appointment only
Pharmacy and lab testing locations & details
Participating pharmacies and labs for those without COVID-19 symptoms.
Individuals must follow public health measures when going for a test, including wearing a mask, practising physical distancing and cleaning hands frequently. If you are feeling sick on the day of your appointment, please stay home and re-schedule your test.
Walk-in Community Testing Locations
Dominic Agostino Riverdale Community Centre Mobile Testing
150 Violet Drive, Hamilton (parking lot)
Days & hours of operation: Monday October 18 & 25, November 1 & 8 from 10 am to 2 pm
Access: walk-in only, no appointment needed
This testing location is only for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms.
ID required to verify identity.
David Braley Health Sciences Centre
100 Main St. W., Hamilton (parking lot off King/Bay)
Days & hours of operation: Tuesday October 26, November 2 & 9 from 10 am to 2 pm
Access: walk-in only, no appointment needed
This testing location is only for individuals who have COVID-19 symptoms.
ID required to verify identity.
Point of Care Testing (Rapid testing)
There are two kinds of point of care tests (POCT): molecular and antigen tests.
Antigen POCT tests are used for screening purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis of COVID-19 infection in people who have COVID-19 symptoms or who have had close contact with a positive COVID-19 case. Any positive results from antigen POCT must be confirmed with testing at a COVID-19 Testing & Assessment Centre.
Molecular testing is for both diagnostic and screening purposes. A confirmatory test is not required. All POCT final positives from molecular tests must be reported to the local public health unit.
Individuals who are not vaccinated and are required to complete regular screening for work purposes are not eligible for testing at Assessment Centres. Speak with your employer to access Rapid Antigen testing.
Rapid antigen testing (schools)
City of Hamilton Public Health Services continues to closely monitor COVID-19 transmission and community vaccination rates and are working with school boards and other health units across the province to identify when voluntary rapid antigen screening could be used in areas where risk of COVID-19 transmission is high.
Testing for International travel
The Government of Canada continues to recommend against non-essential travel.
The Ontario Government does not cover the cost of COVID-19 testing for international travel. These tests are only available at private laboratories for a fee. Please ensure you book the test required by the location you are travelling to.
Individuals who are seeking clearance for travel must get tested at a participating pharmacy or lab. There is a cost for this test.
Get your test results
Do I need to have a negative follow-up test before I return to work?
- You do not require a negative COVID-19 test result to return to work. You may return to work when your period of self-isolation ends, providing you do not have a fever and your symptoms have been improving for 24 hours (or 48 hours if you have gastrointestinal symptoms). In addition, you will need to pass the COVID-19 screening questionnaire to enter your workplace.
What does a negative COVID-19 test mean?
- A negative COVID-19 test means you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected.
- It does not mean that you will not be exposed to, test positive for, or become sick with COVID-19 in the future.
- If you have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you should continue quarantining for the remainder of the time required as a contact of a confirmed case. If your symptoms persist or worsen, contact your doctor or public health so that re-testing can be considered. For those who had previously been instructed by public health to isolate, you should remain in isolation for the remainder of the required 10 days.
- If you have not had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, tested negative but still have symptoms: continue to quarantine until you are feeling well (i.e. your symptoms have resolved). If your symptoms persist or worsen, contact your doctor to discuss next steps.
- If you have not had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, tested negative and have no symptoms: you can resume your normal activities, including returning to work.
- If your test comes back negative, but you begin to develop COVID-19 symptoms, even if they're mild, 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.
What does a positive test mean?
- A positive COVID-19 test means you are most likely infected now and could infect others.
- You should self-isolate and monitor for symptoms when you have tested positive, even if you don’t have symptoms.
- Public health will reach out to you to provide further instructions by phone or text message.
- Read more about what to do if you tested positive
Can the test tell me if I had COVID-19 in the past?
- No, the test only determines if you have COVID-19 at the time the test is conducted.
- Testing someone’s blood to see if they have antibodies for COVID-19 can tell if a person previously had COVID-19, however in Ontario, this test is only done in very limited clinical situations.
Follow up instructions after being tested for COVID-19
I am a health care worker
- Refer to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Quick Reference Public Health Guidance on Testing and Clearance rather than guidance below. Follow up with your Occupational Health and Safety Department, if applicable.
I am not a health care worker
I have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 but I have COVID-19 symptoms:
Regardless of your vaccination status or if you previously tested positive for COVID-19, you must follow these recommendations:
- Self-isolate while waiting for your test results.
- If your test is positive, self-isolate for 10 days* after your symptoms started. After 10 days you can stop self-isolating if you don’t have a fever and your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours for gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea).
- If your test is negative, you may stop self-isolating if you no longer have a fever and your symptoms are improving for at least 24 hours, or after 10 days following mild symptom onset without worsening, whichever is sooner. If you experienced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or stomach pain, you should wait at least 48 hours after receiving a negative test until ending self-isolation.
- Seek out medical attention if your condition worsens or you develop any worrisome features (e.g. shortness of breath, chest pain).
- Household members who are fully vaccinated or previously positive within 90 days do not need to self-isolate. If household members are not fully vaccinated they should self-isolate until you get a negative test. If you test positive, they must self-isolate for 10 days from their last contact with you and be tested at an Assessment Centre right away and again on or after day 7.
* Self-isolate for 20 days from symptom onset (or 20 days from positive test collection date if you do not have symptoms and are severely immunocompromised) if you had severe illness requiring ICU level of care or have a severely weakened immune system (e.g. on cancer chemotherapy).
I have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19
Refer to the Ministry of Health’s flow chart for people who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 .
I was tested due to an upcoming surgery/medical procedure (I do not have symptoms and was not exposed to a person who tested positive for COVID-19)
- You are not required to self-isolate while waiting for your test results.
- Please contact the physician responsible for your upcoming surgery/medical procedure for more comprehensive guidance.
Testing after travelling abroad
Travellers entering Canada, regardless of citizenship, must follow testing and quarantine requirements. There are different requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. Information about returning to Canada from abroad from the Government of Canada
When you finish self-quarantining, continue to physically distance from others, wear a mask indoors, clean your hands often, self-monitor, and get re-tested if you develop one of more COVID-19 symptoms.
Fully immunized person – A person is defined as fully immunized 14 or more days after receiving their second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine series of their first dose of a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine series that is listed for emergency use by World Health Organization or approved by Health Canada.
Previously positive person – A person is defined as previously positive if they were a confirmed case of COVID-19 where their initial positive result was 90 days ago or less AND they have been cleared from their initial infection.
Exposure – in general, this includes household, prolonged (>15 minutes cumulative) or close (<2 meters) contact, as well as other potentially high-risk contacts.
Frequently Asked Questions about testing
What do I need to bring with me if I go to a COVID-19 Testing Centre?
- Bring your Ontario health card and a list of your current medications. Wait times will depend on patient volume.
Can my child attend a COVID-19 Testing Centre?
- Yes. The COVID-19 Testing Centre can test both children and adults who fit the above eligibility criteria and have appointments. Do not bring your child if they are well and do not need to be tested.
- All COVID-19 Testing Centres will test people of all ages (except those under three months), including children.
- Children under three (3) months of age requiring a COVID test must go to the Emergency Department at McMaster Children's Hospital to be assessed and be tested. The Emergency Department at McMaster Children's Hospital is open 24 hours a day and is located at 1200 Main St West, Hamilton. Please do not book a COVID test online for a child under three (3) months of age. Call your healthcare provider if you have questions about testing a child under three (3) months of age for COVID-19.
Will a family member or friend be allowed to join me in the COVID-19 Testing Centre?
Testing Centres, visitors who are not being tested will not be allowed to join patients in the Testing Centre with the following exceptions:
- An adult accompanying a child who is a patient, a frail older person, a person with a disability
- Anyone acting as an interpreter
Will I have to wear a mask at the COVID-19 Testing Centre?
The safety of all staff, physicians, volunteers, students, patients, families and visitors remains a top priority. All patients visiting the COVID-19 Testing Centres will be required to wear the mask provided and use the hand sanitizer prior to entering the facility.
Will my results be confidential?
- Yes. Your personal health information is protected under Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA).
- The following information will be reported on the Ministry of Health of Ontario’s website:
- Patient age and gender
- Public Health Unit
- Hospital involved
- Type of transmission
- Status (e.g. home isolation)
Can you leave your house while waiting for test results?
If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but have no known exposure to COVID-19
- Self-isolate in your home away from others while you are waiting for test results. Practice physical distancing, frequent handwashing and clean commonly used surfaces in the home. Read more about self-isolating.
If Public Health has identified you as a close contact of a COVID-19 confirmed positive person identified by Public Health, whether you have or do not have COVID-19 symptoms
- Continue to follow the advice provided to you by public health regarding self-isolation.
Will the Testing Centre issue absence notes for employment purposes?
No. The Testing Centre has been established strictly to screen and assess patients for COVID-19. Notes for employment or other purposes will not be provided by physicians or other clinical staff.
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