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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Rapid Antigen Screening

These screening kits are provided by the Ontario Government complimentary to small and medium-sized businesses as an additional tool to help keep workplaces in Ontario safe. Any misuse of the procedures can negatively impact the workplace. Care and attention to the proper process is essential for this tool to be effective.

Information from Health Canada suggests that up to 1/3 of people carrying the virus are asymptomatic, causing few or no noticeable signs. However, these asymptomatic carriers remain infectious. Others who will show symptoms can be infectious for up to five days beforehand. This makes it incredibly important to find asymptomatic carriers in order to combat the spread of COVID-19.

A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g. on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes no more than 15 minutes to yield a result.

Frequent screening with rapid antigen tests increases the chances of early identification of cases in asymptomatic individuals. The recommended frequency is three times per week.

Ontario has also released guidance for organizations that choose to participate in COVID-19 testing that falls outside of the public health care system to ensure there is appropriate oversight and consumer protection and that public resources are supporting public health initiatives.

For additional information, and to receive news regarding these kits and their availability, please sign up for our mailing list.

List of questions answered here

Click on any question to jump straight to the answer

Am I eligible for the program? Can I get kits anywhere else?
Who can businesses give screening kits to and who can we screen?
What is the accuracy of these screens?
How do we dispose of the waste?
How is the screening administered?
Do I have to report test results?
How many staff can go to pick up and train for the screening kits and masks?
I’m collecting my second or subsequent order. Do I have to bring another copy of the program agreement and waiver?
Can I send someone else if I can’t make my appointment?
Can I just drop in and pick up kits for refills of my order?
What is the next step if an employee has a positive or inconclusive result?
Do I need to confirm a positive result with a PCR test?
Do fully vaccinated individuals still need to be tested?
I have a one-off event or social gathering. Can I use a kit to make sure I’m not infectious?
I have symptoms, but I tested negative. What should I do?
Who can perform the screening on the employees?
Can I show my supervisors how to do the screens and have them watch the video in order to have them supervise the screening?
How frequently should we be screening our employees?
How much supply can I request?
Do these kits have an expiry date?
Do I only give screens for employees showing symptoms?
It is allergy season and people are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19. Should we avoid screening people that may be experiencing allergy symptoms, or should we screen them regardless?
I am a consultant on workplace safety. Can I order on behalf of my clients and screen their employees?
Can I purchase extra kits so I can screen those I want to, and if so, how much do they cost?
Do I have to be a member of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce to order the kits?
Can I use these kits to test trainees, visitors, and other non-remunerated/non-volunteer people on my premises?
Some of our Employees are required to travel for business. Can this screen validate them for travel?
What are the “Control Swabs” for?
I’ve been advised to self-isolate. Can I take one of these tests and ignore that if it is negative?

Am I eligible for the program? Can I get kits anywhere else?

If you are a business or non-profit with fewer than 150 employees (including home-based businesses), you can access rapid testing kits for free under this program.

Larger firms can access kits directly through the Ontario Together portal.

Public schools receive tests through local school boards.

Unvaccinated private school staff and volunteers are no longer required to be tested. The Ministry of Education can provide kits for private school students.

Private colleges with fewer than 150 staff can access kits under this program. Larger private colleges can obtain kits (including for students) through the Ministry of Colleges & Universities.

Licensed childcares can obtain kits through their local school board.

Municipal offices and governments can access kits directly through the Ontario Together portal.

For assistance in contacting any agency above, please email rapidtesting@gncc.ca.

Who can businesses give screening kits to and who can we screen?

These test kits are only for use by employees and volunteers that frequently attend the workplace or by regular on-site visitors or contractors. You cannot give kits to anyone else. Employees have the right to refuse to participate in the test.

What is the accuracy of these screens?

These test kits are accurate when used correctly. However, incorrect usage by, for example, an inadequate specimen or too short a time to mix with the buffering agent, can result in false results. False negatives are much more common than false positives. For this reason, only persons who have viewed and understood the usage guides should use these kits.

How do we dispose of the waste?

The test cartridge and vial (with the swab and buffering agent) are considered hazardous waste. If you have the facilities to dispose of biohazardous material, please do so; otherwise, you may return used kits when picking up your next batch for safe disposal. A biohazard bin is provided at the pick-up site for this purpose. There is no charge to drop off waste.

How is the screening administered?

Rapid Antigen Screening uses a nasal swab. The swab must be inserted into each nostril for 5 to 7 seconds and rotated to ensure collection of a useful specimen. Please review this video for detailed instructions.

An additional swab from the back of the throat, back of the tongue, or inside of the cheek can offer a better detection rate. Delta and previous variants are more easily detected in the nose, whereas Omicron can be easier to detect in the throat.

Do I have to report test results?

The Government of Ontario previously required test results to be reported, but has dropped this requirement. You are no longer obliged to upload test results.

How many staff can go to pick up and train for the screening kits and masks?

To keep our staff and volunteers safe, we are limiting in-person visits to the facility. Send ONLY one person to pick up kits.

I’m collecting my second or subsequent order. Do I have to bring another copy of the program agreement and waiver?

No. These documents remain in effect as long as you participate in the program and we retain them on file. If we have already collected your agreement and waiver from your first collection, you do not need to bring them again to subsequent collections.

Can I send someone else if I can’t make my appointment?

Yes, someone else from your organization can collect kits on your behalf. Please ensure that they have viewed the training material before arriving, and have them bring the Provincial Antigen Screening Program Agreement and the Waiver if this is your first time collecting kits. When they arrive, they should inform staff who was originally scheduled to collect kits in order to help them find your order.

Can I just drop in and pick up kits for refills of my order?

No. It is important to control the number of people on-site to reduce the opportunity for close contact. Please wait until you receive your time/day confirmation. Arrivals for pick-up outside their designated window will not be served.

What is the next step if an employee has a positive or inconclusive result?

If an employee tests positive or inconclusive from a rapid antigen test and is fully vaccinated, they must isolate for five days from receipt of the positive test result if they have no symptoms, or from symptom onset if they do, and until their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (or 48 hours if showing gastrointestinal symptoms).

If the employee is partially vaccinated, unvaccinated, immunocompromised, or was hospitalized for COVID-19, they should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of the test (whichever came sooner).

If the employee required ICU care or is severely immunocompromised, they should self-isolate for 20 days from the onset of symptoms, or from the date of the test (whichever came sooner).

In addition, household members of individuals who have tested positive must also self-isolate unless:

  1. they have previously tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, or
  2. they are 18 or older and have received their booster vaccination, or
  3. they are under 18 and are fully vaccinated.

People testing positive should also notify close contacts. A close contact is anyone that was less than two metres away from them for at least 15 minutes, or multiple shorter lengths of time, without personal protective equipment in the 48 hours before symptoms began or the positive test result, whichever came first.

For the following ten days after completing the self-isolation period, an employee should continue to wear a mask in public, avoid contact with anyone immunocompromised or at high risk of illness, and avoid visiting high-risk settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices, or correctional institutions.

Do I need to confirm a positive result with a PCR test?

Rapid antigen testing may be used to confirm if a symptomatic individual has COVID-19, with no requirement for a confirmatory PCR or rapid molecular test.

To preserve supply for essential medical services, PCR testing is now only recommended for individuals if they belong to these groups.

Do fully vaccinated individuals still need to be tested?

It is recommended that all personnel be tested regardless of vaccination status. Fully-vaccinated individuals can still contract and spread COVID-19, especially the more infectious Omicron variant.

I have a one-off event or social gathering. Can I use a kit to make sure I’m not infectious?

One-off testing of people with no symptoms and no known exposure is not recommended. If you proceed, please complete the test as close to the event as possible (i.e. within a few hours) and be aware that a false negative result is a possibility.

I have symptoms, but I tested negative. What should I do?

A positive test for a symptomatic individual is a strong indication that the person has COVID-19, and they (and their household) should self-isolate.

Two consecutive negative tests separated by 24-48 hours on a symptomatic individual indicate that COVID-19 infection is unlikely. Nevertheless, the individual is strongly advised to self-isolate until their symptoms have been improving for at least 24 hours (48 hours if showing gastrointestinal symptoms).

Who can perform the screening on the employees?

The Ontario Government authorizes “self” screening using these kits. However, there is a requirement that a Screening Supervisor who has been trained via the video you watched and were sent after your initial order by email.

No one other than the employee should perform the swabbing procedure on any employee. The supervisor is there to instruct and ensure the procedure is followed for an accurate result.

Can I show my supervisors how to do the screens and have them watch the video in order to have them supervise the screening?

At this point, the Ministry of Health requires that a trained individual supervises the screening process. You will receive an email after your initial pick-up. Contained in that email is a link to report results as well as a link to the training video to use as a refresher and/or train other supervisors. If someone has watched the video and understands the procedure, they can also supervise screenings. We do not encourage training via word-of-mouth. Ideally, all screening supervisors should review the source training material.

How frequently should we be screening our employees?

The recommendation from public health is that all employees should be screened three times per week. This was raised from twice per week.

It is understood in some settings or with a higher frequency of close contact that some businesses will want to screen more often. Please advise us at rapidtesting@gncc.ca if you need to do this, and we will arrange for extra supplies to be delivered for you.

Conversely, some may want to test less frequently or may have a variety of schedules when employees are in the workplace. We highly recommend abiding by public health recommendations whenever possible.

How much supply can I request?

To ensure that we have enough supplies for everyone, we are distributing kits in two-week batches. To screen employees twice weekly, you would therefore pick up six kits per employee, and return in two weeks to pick up additional kits, and to drop off used kits if you require disposal.

Do these kits have an expiry date?

Yes, they do. Kits are given out on a first-to-expire basis to ensure that stocks are used efficiently. We only give supplies for two weeks and will ensure that all kits distributed will not expire within that period.

Health Canada has advised that kits remain effective and accurate for up to a year after the marked expiration date.

Do I only give screens for employees showing symptoms?

The goal of the rapid antigen testing program is to identify asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 before they have an opportunity to spread in the workplace. However, rapid antigen testing may also be used to confirm if a symptomatic individual has COVID-19, with no requirement for a confirmatory PCR or rapid molecular test.

It is allergy season and people are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19. Should we avoid screening people that may be experiencing allergy symptoms, or should we screen them regardless?

Anyone showing symptoms that are similar to COVID-19 could be infectious and treated as a potential infection (unless ruled out by a PCR test).

While we recognize some symptoms can resemble allergies, the risk to your workplace, your other employees, and to you is not worth taking.

I am a consultant on workplace safety. Can I order on behalf of my clients and screen their employees?

No. These kits are provided free of charge to small and medium-sized businesses for the sole purpose of testing employees. A designated employee must be assigned the responsibility of taking the supervisor training, ensuring proper screening processes are adhered to and reporting on behalf of the employer the results of the screens. There are avenues available for third-party vendors to purchase their own kits outside of this program to provide screening services.

Can I purchase extra kits so I can screen those I want to, and if so, how much do they cost?

No. These are not for sale and we are not authorized to charge anyone for these kits. The document you signed also requires that you not sell or distribute these as well.

The retail value of a box of 25 kits is approximately $200. The kits are funded by the governments of Canada and Ontario. Their distribution is provided as a community service by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce and Great Wolf Lodge.

Do I have to be a member of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce to order the kits?

No, this program is open to all small and medium-sized employers within the Niagara region. Employers with over 150 employees can order through the Ontario government’s portal.

Can I use these kits to test trainees, visitors, and other non-remunerated/non-volunteer people on my premises?

These kits can be used to test people who will regularly attend your premises, even if they are not employees or volunteers. This does not include customers, clients, or guests who do not attend regularly.

Some of our Employees are required to travel for business. Can this screen validate them for travel?

No.  While this screen has extremely good reliability, this is not a tool for travel. Adhere to the rules laid out by the governments of Ontario, Canada, and any country you may be traveling to or from.

What are the “Control Swabs” for?

Kit boxes containing 25 kits also contain two Control Swabs. Smaller kits with 5 tests per box do not. One will produce a negative result, the other will produce a positive result. These are ONLY to be used for quality control purposes. If you are finding that the results are not showing up on the testing pads, you can follow the process in the manual provided to do a quality control check of the pads by simply following the same testing regime. DO NOT SWAB ANYONE WITH THESE CONTROL SWABS. They are pre-loaded with ingredients to produce positive/negative results.

While the Positive Control Swab will show positive for COVID-19, there is nothing on the swab that is infectious. You cannot get COVID-19 from the positive swab.

I’ve been advised to self-isolate. Can I take one of these tests and ignore that if it is negative?

No. While generally reliable, these kits are not accurate enough to give a clean bill of health to someone who has been advised to self-isolate because of symptoms, exposure, travel, or any other medical or public health contingency. You must comply with public health and medical orders regardless of the results of these tests.

 

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