An Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 25 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Seventeen long-term care homes in Ottawa now have access to rapid COVID-19 testing within the home.

The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce said in an update Tuesday that the project officially began Monday, Feb. 1.

"The Abbott Panbio rapid antigen test, implemented in these homes, will quickly identify COVID-19 positive staff members and visitors to help prevent outbreaks and stop the spread of COVID-19," a statement from the taskforce said.

This follows a pilot project in which rapid testing was deployed to five long-term care homes in the city. The Ottawa COVID-19 Testing Taskforce says staff in the long-term care homes are trained on how to use the tests and how to set up rapid testing clinics and will have laboratory guidance for support.

The rapid tests will be rolled out to other homes in Ottawa in the coming weeks, the taskforce said.

"Additionally, homes across the province will be required to conduct staff and visitor surveillance using rapid testing beginning Feb. 16, 2021, as mandated by the Ministry of Long-Term Care," the statement said.

A list of which homes have access to rapid testing was not immediately available. The taskforce said it would not be providing a list at this time because the program is still in the early stages of implementation. There are 28 long-term care homes in Ottawa.

Ten long-term care homes in Ottawa are currently in outbreak status.