Infectious Diseases

Algoma Public Health

Asymptomatic Screening for COVID-19 - FAQs

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  1. Who can get screened? 
  2. What is a rapid COVID-19 antigen screen? And what's the difference between testing and screening? 
  3. Is Rapid Antigen Screening an accepted negative test for travel purposes?
  4. What's the purpose of screening?
  5. Am I eligible for this screening even if I've had the COVID-19 vaccine?

 

1. Who can get screened? What is a rapid COVID-19 antigen screen? And what's the difference between testing and screening? 

 

Screening is available to anyone who meets the asymptomatic criteria. In order to be screened in the pharmacy you must:

  • Be asymptomatic (you have no symptoms of COVID-19)
  • Have not been in contact with someone known to have COVID-19 within the past 14 days
  • Have not been advised to quarantine in the last 14 days per the federal quarantine requirements
  • Have not been advised to get tested for COVID-19 through an exposure notification through the COVID-19 app
  • Have not previously tested positive for COVID-19

IMPORTANT: If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: fever, new onset of cough, worsening chronic cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, difficulty swallowing, decrease or loss of sense of taste or smell, chills, headaches, unexplained fatigue/malaise/muscle aches (myalgias), nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, pink eye (conjunctivitis), runny nose or nasal congestion without other known cause please contact an assessment centre for testing and/or seek medical attention.

 

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2. What is a rapid COVID-19 antigen screen? And what's the difference between testing and screening? 

 

A rapid COVID-19 antigen screen is NOT used to diagnose COVID-19, so it’s different from a COVID-19 test. Here are a few key differences:

  • Screening can identify antigens: A rapid COVID-19 antigen screen may identify the presence of antigens in your body. Antigens are specific proteins on a virus’s surface. This may indicate that you have an active COVID-19 infection. A follow-up COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is needed to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis.

  • Screening is faster: Results from antigen screens are ready in 15-20 minutes, and don’t need to be sent to a lab. Screening can be done in pharmacies. This is much faster than a COVID-19 test, but it may be less sensitive.

  • A preliminary positive screen needs a follow-up test: If you get a preliminary positive result from the rapid COVID-19 antigen screening, it does not confirm a diagnosis of COVID-19. To confirm a diagnosis of COVID-19, you must contact Public Health and attend a COVID-19 Assessment Center to follow up with a COVID-19 test – called a Polymerase Chain Reaction (or PCR) test – to confirm a diagnosis of COVID-19. This test is sent to a lab, and results are available within a few days.

 

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3. Is Rapid Antigen Screening an accepted negative test for travel purposes?

 

For certain destinations, a Rapid Antigen Screening Test is accepted to provide as your negative viral test for travel purposes. Requirements for travel are changing frequently and each destination is different. It is the responsibility of the passenger to check the entry requirements of their destination.

 

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4. What's the purpose of screening?

 

Rapid screening can help to identify possible COVID-19 infections and may limit the risk of unknown spread; it does not provide a diagnosis of COVID-19. Rapid COVID-19 antigen screening is an additional step, beyond existing health and safety measures. It must be used along with Public Health guidelines, including social distancing, hand washing, enhanced cleaning, and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks. Rapid COVID-19 antigen screening is NOT the same as a COVID-19 test, and it does NOT prevent someone from getting COVID-19. If a screen comes back preliminary positive, a follow-up PCR test at a COVID-19 Assessment Center is required to confirm a diagnosis.

 

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5. Am I eligible for this screening even if I've had the COVID-19 vaccine?

 

Yes, individuals who have already received the COVID-19 vaccine are still eligible for rapid antigen screening.

 

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