The Ontario government says it is expanding access to PCR testing for COVID-19, and will be expanding eligibility for anti-viral treatments as the province continues to grapple with the sixth wave of the pandemic.
In a press release Monday, the province’s Ministry of Health said “effective immediately,” more “high-risk” groups will be eligible to be tested and assessed for antiviral treatments, such as Paxlovid.
The province said the “high-risk” groups include those 18 and older who are immunocompromised, those 70 and older, those 60 and older with fewer than three COVID-19 vaccine doses and those 18 and older with fewer than three vaccines and at least one risk condition such as a chronic medical condition.
Those looking to be assessed can do so by visiting a clinical assessment centre or by contacting their doctor.
According to the provincial government, those who are eligible for an assessment will now also be eligible for a PCR test at any testing centre in Ontario.
“Beginning April 12, Ontario is making it easier for eligible individuals with a prescription to access antivirals by expanding dispensing locations to include participating pharmacies across the province,” the release reads.
The province said it will also provide a list of pharmacies that are dispensing Paxlovid beginning Wednesday. The list can be found on the province’s website beginning at 8 a.m.
According to the release, treatment for antivirals must be started within five days of symptoms “in most cases.”
The province said individuals who are part of the higher risk groups who have symptoms of COVID-19 should “immediately seek testing and care, by contacting their health care provider or visiting a clinical assessment centre.”
Treatment for antivirals must be started within five days of symptoms in most cases. Individuals who are part of higher risk groups and who have COVID-19 symptoms should immediately seek testing and care, by contacting their health care provider or visiting a clinical assessment centre.
Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Ontario’s top doctor, Kieran Moore, said members of the public should consult with their healthcare provider to determine if antiviral treatments are right for them.
“Even if you don’t have symptoms, talk to your primary care provider in advance to see if the treatment is right for you in the event that you get sick — have a plan,” he said.
According to Moore, health care providers can also determine if antiviral treatment is appropriate for patients based on “individual circumstances, even if they do not belong to one of the high risk groups.”
The news comes as the province reported a total of 1,090 are now in hospital with COVID-19, with 184 in intensive care.