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More accurate at-home rapid tests deployed to support fight against COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis says the new COVID-19 test kits being handed out by the province will require a three-point testing method.
COVID rapid antigen test
A COVID-19 antigen test kit.

The Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Eastern Ontario Health Unit says a new type of take-home rapid antigen test should help people get a more precise read of their health, which will hopefully bolster the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Paul Roumeliotis told The Rob Snow Show on Wednesday, February 9 that the new at-home testing method will probably help someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms get a more accurate test result as opposed to someone without any symptoms.

The new steps require people to swab their nose, cheek, and tongue.

A typical antigen test in Ontario requires a swab of either the nose or the throat. The doctor says adding these two extra steps will help give a more accurate diagnosis.

"People need to understand how to use it. If it's positive, it's reliable," he said. "However, if they're [a person] is asymptomatic and test negative and then assume they're good to go without masks...they shouldn't be using it that way."

Ontario lifted lockdown measures for restaurants, gyms and theatres on Monday, January 31 but the Ford government's reopening plan aims to ease restrictions further on Monday, February 21 and again on Monday, March 14.

On Wednesday, February 2, Premier Doug Ford said he's sticking with his reopening plan despite a warning from Ontario's science advisory table.

Health Minister Christine Elliott also said Ontario is sticking with its reopening timeline, indicating that the province wants to remove restrictions as soon as possible but mask mandates, as well as vaccine passports, will remain in place for the time being.

"We'll have full capacity in places like restaurants and gyms," Dr. Roumeliotis said. "Half capacity at large venues and then a couple of weeks later, we'll have everything virtually opened. I think it's the right way to do it."

Dr. Roumeliotis said if Ontario can synchronize its effort the province can view lockdowns as a thing of the past.

The free rapid antigen tests will soon be available at roughly 2300 pharmacy and grocery store locations across the province.

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