If you require PCR testing, moving forward it could have an associated out-of-pocket cost. ‘This realignment and reduction of COVID-19 PCR testing are reflective of our new reality, vaccination rates and the effectiveness of home Rapid Antigen Testing.’
Editor’s note: An erroneous reference to the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit as the administrator of the PCR testing authority has been removed from this article.
The North Bay Regional Health Centre confirms its COVID-19 Assessment Centre is reducing the scope of its PCR testing for members of the public, including for health care workers and essential caregivers for residents in long-term care homes.
Effective Monday, November 14, NBRHC says it will no longer be performing COVID-19 swabbing for most of the population. The health centre has been offering PCR testing since early in the pandemic.
See related from 2020: Hospital working on a COVID drive-thru testing unit
According to NBRHC, “This realignment and reduction of COVID-19 PCR testing are reflective of our new reality, vaccination rates and the effectiveness of home Rapid Antigen Testing.”
Testing will continue for:
- All surgery patients requiring a PCR before any operation at Health Sciences North
- Those who call ahead and identify themselves as immunocompromised either due to a medical condition and/or immune suppressant medications.
- First Nations residents or individuals working/travelling to a First Nations location.
The Health Unit’s role in the wake of this service change has been to advise high-risk congregate living settings — such as long-term care and retirement homes — how they can utilize either rapid antigen tests or in-facility PCR specimen collection to test their staff, visitors and essential caregivers for COVID-19, according to Dr. Carol Zimbalatti, the associate medical officer of health.
If you require PCR testing, moving forward it could have an associated out-of-pocket cost.
When in need of a test for work or travel reasons, NBRHC recommends visiting RapidScreen, which has a North Bay location at the main Canadore College campus. A SARS-COVID PCR nasal swab collected at the North Bay location costs $149. According to the RapidScreen website, this type of test is often used for travel, diagnosis, employer testing, events or visiting with family members. The samples are processed in the laboratory and promise to be the most accurate COVID-19 test available. Results are available within 24 hours but same-day service is “available at an additional cost.” Also available, is a $35 rapid antigen test.
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If you have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms, or for screening purposes, take the COVID-19 self-assessment for recommendations and next steps, NBRHC advises.
Ontario is distributing free rapid antigen tests through participating pharmacies and grocery locations for at-home use. If you test positive on a rapid antigen test, you no longer require confirmation with a PCR test (nasopharyngeal swab). Please presume you have COVID-19 and follow the Ontario guidelines.
NBRHC asks that you do not visit Emergency for COVID-19 testing as this department is focused on providing emergency care to the community.
“If you have concerns about your symptoms, contact your doctor, health care provider or Telehealth for more information and guidance. If you develop severe symptoms requiring medical attention, such as shortness of breath or chest pain, call 911.”