Ont. health unit warns rapid antigen tests are not to be used to diagnose COVID-19

An Ontario health unit is warning individuals using Rapid Antigen Testing to check for a COVID-19 diagnosis that the tests have a high failure rate.

In a release on Friday, the Grey Bruce Health Unit said it learned several people with symptoms were using the tests rather than going to an assessment centre and isolating.

The region's medical officer of health said the rapid antigen tests were not a tool for testing people with symptoms.

"They are not reliable in confirming a positive or negative result in people with symptoms. If you have a negative rapid antigen test, it does not provide a reliable and clear indication that you do not have COVID-19; hence, the test will give false reassurances," Dr. Ian Arra stated.

The health unit noted that antigen tests would not be accepted as an approval to return to work, school, or confirm or refute a COVID-19 diagnosis.

"The inappropriate usage of these tests can give a false assurance, delayed diagnosis and an associated increase in the risk of transmission among contacts and the community in general," the health unit continued.

It recommends booking an appointment at a local COVID-19 testing centre if symptoms develop and isolating until the results are back.