Rapid Antigen Testing - Rapid screen, point of care or POC testing

For individuals

  • Rapid Point of Care (POC) antigen testing is used to screen for potential COVID-19 infection in asymptomatic individuals (i.e., people who have no symptoms) and should not be used for diagnosis of acute COVID-19 infection
  • POC antigen tests should not be used for individuals:
    • With symptoms
    • Who have had close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19
    • Who have previously been infected and recovered from COVID-19
    • To diagnose COVID-19 infection
  • If you currently have symptoms or are a close contact of a confirmed case, you should be tested with a laboratory-based PCR test at an Assessment Centre and not with a rapid POC antigen screening test. Visit COVID-19: Have Symptoms or Been Exposed for more information.
  • If you have symptoms, you must self-isolate while awaiting your PCR results.
  • If you are a close contact of a probable case (i.e., a case who received a positive rapid testing result), you must self-quarantinewhile PCR results are pending. If the case is negative and you do not have any COVID-19 symptoms, you may stop quarantining.
  • If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you must self-isolate for 14 days from your last exposure to the case, regardless of whether or not you receive a negative PCR result. Visit COVID-19: Have Symptoms or Been Exposed for more information.
  • Rapid testing does not replace public health measures such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene in the workplace.
  • Rapid testing does not prevent someone from getting COVID-19.
  • Any positive test results from rapid testing must be confirmed with laboratory-based PCR testing within 24 hours.
  • A negative test result does not guarantee that you are not infected with COVID-19 or will not spread it to others. False negatives with POC antigen tests are common. Continue to follow all public health guidance to help prevent the spread.

For employers or organizations providing private POC testing

  • Organizations (i.e., workplaces) that participate in rapid testing assume any operational, medical, and/or legal responsibilities relating to this initiative.
    • You must have a procedure in place to provide follow up on test results.
    • You must have clear processes in place to respond, should any individuals in your organization be exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. 
    • For more information about participating please review the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Guidance: Considerations for Privately Initiated Testing
  • Anyone who falls within the current Provincial Testing Guidance can continue to receive a free PCR test for COVID-19 at assessment centres, participating pharmacies and community labs
  • Prior to implementation, please understand the local reporting requirements of Hamilton Public Health Services
  • The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce is offering free rapid testing kits for Small and Medium Businesses (with fewer than 150 employees). Details: www.hamiltonrapidtests.ca

Resources for organizations prior to implementation 

Reporting results for organizations performing Rapid Antigen Testing

Rapid tests that are preliminary positive do not need to be reported to Public Health.

  • Confirmatory testing (PCR) at a regional Assessment and Testing Centre must to be completed within 24 hours of the rapid test.
  • The case and their high-risk contacts must begin self-isolation while PCR results are pending
  • A preliminary positive test result from a Health Canada approved rapid antigen POC test is considered a probable case of COVID-19
  • Client Workplace information about testing: