COVID-19 - As Ontario reopens, learn about public health and workplace safety measures. Learn about the COVID-19 vaccination and service disruptions.

Testing and Lab Results for COVID-19

If you're being tested for COVID-19 because you have symptoms, you and your entire household must self-isolate until your test results are received.

If you think you have symptoms:

If you have questions about COVID-19, call the Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248, press 7.

A select number of pharmacies in Niagara are offering testing by appointment only to those without COVID-19 symptoms. Other restrictions also apply. See criteria for getting tested at a participating pharmacy.

Find a participating pharmacy near you.

It's important to remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn't mean you haven't been exposed to COVID-19. You can still develop symptoms days after your test was taken.

If your test comes back negative, but you begin to develop COVID-19 symptoms, even if they're mild, you need to be re-tested. This is important so we can all protect the health and safety of our loved ones and our community from whatever infection you may have.

It's up to the individual being tested if they want to share their personal health information with others. Niagara Region Public Health urges everyone to be cautious about sharing any personal health information, and to know that no one has the right to see your personal health information except your health care provider. In respect of privacy, Niagara Region Public Health will never share testing results with anyone but the person who has tested.

Rapid testing in Niagara

Some places in Niagara use rapid testing for screening. If a person has a positive rapid antigen test, Public Health requires a standard test (laboratory-PCR test) to confirm a COVID-19 infection. Rapid testing doesn't replace public health measures, such as symptom screening, physical distancing, masking and hand hygiene.

Rapid antigen test

This test can identify COVID-19 on people who don't show symptoms (asymptomatic). Places using Rapid Antigen testing in Niagara include:

  • Long-term care homes use rapid antigen tests for staff, students and essential caregivers
  • Large companies have access to free rapid screening test kits. This provides quick results that can help stop the spread of COVID-19 and make employees feel safer. See if your organization is eligible for these free antigen point-of-care test kits and learn how to set up a testing program.
  • Some pharmacies offer this test for a fee. Call ahead to see if the test is available and if you need an appointment.

Rapid molecular test

This test works for people who do and don't have symptoms. Some walk-in clinics may offer this free test. Call ahead to ask if this is offered and if you need an appointment.

Reporting

We encourage facilities to report positive rapid antigen test results, such as Panbio, to Public Health.

Facilities must report confirmed PCR tests and positive rapid molecular tests, such as ID Now to Public Health.

If you test positive on a rapid test
If you test positive on a rapid test, you must self-isolate.

If it's a positive rapid antigen test, you must book a follow-up test to confirm the result within 24 hours.

If you test negative on a rapid antigen test
If you have no symptoms and were not exposed to a person with COVID-19, you can resume work.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate and book a follow-up test to confirm the result.

If you were exposed to a person with COVID-19, you must self-isolate. If you develop symptoms, you must book an appointment online for testing.

Screening with Public Health

If you choose to call the Public Health Info-Line, callers will be assessed by a public health professional for your risk of having COVID-19. Based on the initial assessment, the professional may:

Get COVID-19 lab results

It's important to ask the health care professional taking your swab / COVID-19 test how you'll be receiving your test results.

Public Health doesn't have access to your COVID-19 test results.

If you're having difficulty accessing your results or need a paper copy, call 905-378-4647 and ask for the Release of Information Office.

Watch this informative video to learn how to find your COVID-19 test results.

How to get your lab results

  • Niagara Health Assessment Centre

    If you were tested at a Niagara Health COVID-19 assessment centre, you'll receive directions on how to access lab results online.

    If you were tested at a Niagara Health COVID-19 assessment centre, and don't have a current Ontario health card, contact your health care provider (doctor's office) or the Release of Information Office at the site where you were tested.

    Contact the Release of Information Office at 905-378-4647:

    • St. Catharines - ext. 44470
    • Welland - ext. 33220
    • Niagara Falls - ext. 52451
  • Provincial portal

    Ontario has a user-friendly, online portal for the public to easily access their COVID-19 lab test results.

    If results state, "Unable to post positive / negative results on this website or results unavailable on this site," your results may be available in another location. To find the other location, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Previous results". Verify the results in this section and match the date you had your COVID-19 test.

    By offering faster and secure access to test results on your computer or mobile device, this portal will help ease pressures on public health units and frontline workers to provide this information so they can better focus on containing COVID-19.

    Repeated login attempts may result in being locked out of the portal until midnight the next day. While waiting for test results, continue to self-isolate, unless you have never had COVID-19 symptoms.

  • Niagara Health Navigator

    Check your results by downloading a mobile app, available through Niagara Health.

    1. Download Niagara Health Navigator in the Google Play store or Apple app store
    2. Under COVID-19 select "Self Assessment and Lab Results" then "Check your Lab Results"
    3. Enter details as they appear on the Health Card
    4. Select "Verify Patient"
  • MyChart

    If can take a while to get your MyChart PIN. We recommend you sign up as soon as possible.

    Register for MyChart

    1. Visit MyChart and complete the online form. You must have a valid Ontario health card and be 13 years of age or older.
    2. Upload a clear photo of your Ontario health card
    3. Take a photo of yourself holding your health card and upload the photo
    4. Activate your account. You will receive an email with a link and four digit PIN within one business day.

    Find COVID-19 lab results

    1. Login to MyChart with your four digit PIN number and on the right hand side in the yellow area, create an account
    2. Click 'Clinical Records' on the left hand side, then click 'South West Ontario' and then click 'Microbiology'
    3. Click on the test description. If you're unsure which test describes COVID-19, click the test whose specimen source is Nasopharyngeal Swab.
    4. View your results
  • LifeLabs

    If you know your swab went to a LifeLabs facility, you can access your results by registering for their free, secure service at my results.

Your lab results

If you were tested as a result of having COVID-19 symptoms, even if they were mild symptoms, you must self-isolate while awaiting your test results.

Individuals must self-isolate for at least 14 days:

  • After returning from international travel regardless of test results
  • Since the last exposure to a case of COVID-19 regardless of test results

If you received a positive test result:
Anyone with a positive test result will be contacted by Public Health to determine the period of self-isolation. In general, there is a minimum 10 day self-isolation period after symptoms started.

If you received a negative test result:
You can return to work when one of the following conditions are met:

  • It has been 24 hours since symptoms have gone away OR
  • 10 days after symptoms started, whichever is shorter. You also must not have a fever without use of fever reducing medications, such as Advil, Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, and be feeling better.

If you have travelled internationally or had contact with a case, you will still need to self-isolate for at least 14 days from your return to Canada or your last contact with the person with COVID-19, even with a negative test result.

If someone has been tested more than seven days ago, and they have received a negative result, but their symptoms have not improved and / or they have new symptoms, they can be referred for testing again. We strongly recommend they also be reassessed by their health care provider.

If you receive an indeterminate result, it may mean that the results are not complete at the lab. Continue to check back in a day or two for your results. You will need to continue to self-isolate and consider the above criteria before returning to work.

If your final laboratory result is indeterminate for COVID-19, you will receive a call from the testing site to have your test repeated.

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