As per the Ontario Ministry of Health guidelines, update November 2023

Symptoms of COVID-19

If you have the symptoms of COVID-19 listed below, assume that you may have the virus and may be contagious.

  • Any one or more of:
    • fever or chills
    • cough
    • shortness of breath
    • decreased or loss of taste or smell
  • Any two or more of:
    • runny nose or nasal congestion
    • headache
    • extreme fatigue
    • sore throat
    • muscle aches or joint pain
    • gastrointestinal symptoms (such as vomiting or diarrhea)
If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911 and inform them that you may have COVID-19.


COVID-19 Testing                  Click here for COVID-19 TESTING LOCATIONS


There are two publicly-funded tests available in Ontario to those who are eligible:  rapid antigen tests and molecular tests, which include both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid molecular testing.


Rapid antigen tests

Rapid antigen tests detect certain proteins in the virus to identify the presence of COVID‑19. A sample, which can be self-collected, is taken using a swab in the nose and/or throat and can produce a result in as little as 15 minutes. 

  • Remember that it is important to read the complete test instructions carefully in order to make sure the test is done as accurately as possible.  Please note too that placing the swab on the inside of each cheek followed by the back of the throat on each side and then inside each nostril as far as is comfortable may increase the chance of detecting COVID-19 infection (even though the instructions usually only talk about testing inside the nose).  Also, allowing the test to sit up to 30 minutes may also increase the chance of detecting COVID-19 infection.
  • Remember that Rapid antigen tests are not as accurate as molecular tests and especially may take several days before a test becomes positive.  Therefore DO NOT ASSUME YOU DO NOT HAVE COVID-19 INFECTION IF YOU HAVE A NEGATIVE RAPID TEST!  It is recommended that you repeat the rapid test every 2 days until your symptoms resolve.  Even if you truly do NOT have COVID-19 infection, your symptoms are still compatible with a contagious viral respiratory infection, including influenza, and so it is still recommended that you follow the general management recommendations for COVID-19 infection whether or not you test positive for COVID-19.

Rapid antigen tests continue to be available through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program for select organizations that have employees working on-site.

Rapid antigen tests are also available for those at high-risk of severe outcomes of COVID-19 (including those eligible for COVID-19 treatments) for free through pharmacy and grocery retail locations while supplies last, local public health units, as well as targeted distribution to high priority communities.

Learn more about rapid testing for at-home use and where to access free rapid antigen tests.


Molecular Testing

Both polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and rapid molecular tests can be used to determine if you have COVID‑19. With PCR testing, a health care professional, or another trained individual, swabs your nose or throat, they send the sample to a lab for testing, and you typically get the results in 1-2 days.  PCR self-collection test kits are also available from participating pharmacies. You can collect the specimen yourself and drop it off at a testing location for processing.  Rapid molecular tests are as reliable as PCR tests but do not require a lab. Results are generally available the same day.

Molecular testing for COVID-19 is more accurate at detecting COVID-19 infection but because of its more limited availability than rapid tests, it is only availalbe for higher risk individuals.

Who is eligible for PCR/Rapid Molecular testing?

If you have a negative COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test or do not have access to a Rapid Antigen Test, you are eligible for PCR or rapid molecular testing if you have COVID‑19 symptoms and belong to any of the following groups:

  • people aged 60 years of age and older

  • people aged 18 years of age and older who have at least one condition that puts them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease

  • people aged 18 years of age and older who are unvaccinated or have not completed their first round of vaccinations (such as their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines)

  • people aged 18 years of age and older who have received their first round of vaccinations (or primary series) and received their last COVID-19 vaccine dose more than 6 months ago and have not had a COVID-19 infection in the past 6 months

  • people who are immunocompromised

  • pregnant people

  • patients seeking emergency medical care or other outpatients where the health care professional judges it to be necessary

  • health care workers providing patient care

  • staff, volunteers, residents/inpatients, essential care providers, and visitors in highest risk settings including hospitals and congregate living settings with medically and socially vulnerable individuals, including international agriculture workers

  • household members of staff in highest risk settings and patient-facing health care workers

  • home and community care workers

  • people who are underhoused or experiencing homelessness

  • first responders, including firefighters, police and paramedics

You are also eligible for PCR or rapid molecular testing if you belong to any of the following groups whether you have symptoms or not:

  • individuals who are from a First Nation, Inuit, Métis community, and/or who self-identify as First Nation, Inuit, and Métis, and their household members

  • Individuals travelling into First Nation, Inuit, Métis communities for work

  • on admission/transfer to or from hospital or congregate living setting

  • people in the context of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in highest risk settings as directed by the local public health unit

  • any patient with a scheduled surgical procedure requiring a general anaesthetic 24-48 hours prior to procedure date

  • newborns born to people with confirmed COVID-19 at the time of birth within 24 hours of delivery, with a repeat test at 48 hours after birth if baseline test is negative, or if the parental test results are pending at the time of discharge

  • people 24-48 hours prior to treatment for cancer or prior to hemodialysis, at the discretion of the treating clinician

  • staff of highest risk settings who, within the last 10 days, have had close contact with an individual with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 or an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, for the purposes of facilitating return to work, as directed by sector-specific guidance or Infection Prevention and Control (IPAC) or Occupational Health staff.


If you are not sure whether or not you qualify for PCR or rapid molecular testing, do the self-assessment screen at the following link:


Visit the link below for more information:,discretion%20of%20the%20treating%20clinician