COVID-19 Testing and Your Test Results

PCR testing is only available to certain eligible populations. Don't visit hospital emergency departments for testing. If you have mild COVID-19 symptoms and are not eligible for a test, you and your household must self-isolate.

COVID-19 testing

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 won’t become positive for COVID-19.

If your test comes back negative, but you begin to develop COVID-19 symptoms, even if they're mild or your symptoms worsen, you should continue to self-isolate.

Testing availability

Due to widespread transmission of COVID-19 in Niagara, there are not enough tests available for everyone. Individuals eligible for lab PCR testing are listed below. If you're unsure about your eligibility for a lab PRC test, take the provincial COVID-19 self-assessment.

Return to work

Public Health doesn't recommend that employers request a negative PCR test for employees to return to work after isolation.

Type of tests and eligibility

  • Lab PCR test (if eligible)

    A standard COVID-19 test is a laboratory-PCR test. Most testing locations use a long, flexible swab to collect a sample through your nose, which is sent to a lab for testing. This is the most accurate type of test for COVID-19.

    Who is eligible for a lab PCR test

    As of Jan. 13, publicly-funded PCR testing is available for the people listed below.

    Symptomatic people who are:

    • Patient-facing healthcare workers
    • Staff, volunteers, residents / inpatients, essential care providers and visitors in highest risk settings
    • Household members of workers in highest risk settings
    • Temporary foreign workers in congregate living settings
    • Patients seeking emergency medical care, at the discretion of the treating clinician
    • Outpatients for whom COVID-19 treatment is being considered, including:
      • Immunocompromised individuals not expected to mount an adequate immune response to COVID-19 vaccination or SARS-CoV-2 infection, regardless of vaccination status.
      • Individuals who are not fully vaccinated and at highest risk of severe disease (anyone aged over 70 years or over 60 years who is Indigenous and / or has additional risk factors)
    • Pregnant people
    • People who are underhoused or homeless
    • First responders, including fire, police and paramedics
    • Elementary and secondary students and education staff who have received a PCR self-collection kit through their school

    Symptomatic / asymptomatic people who are:

    • From First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities and individuals travelling into these communities for work
    • On admission / transfer to or from hospital or congregate living setting
    • Close contacts and people in the context of confirmed or suspected outbreaks in highest risk settings as directed by the local public health unit
    • Individuals, and one accompanying caregiver, with written prior approval for out-of-country medical services from the General Manager, OHIP
    • Asymptomatic testing in hospital, long-term care, retirement homes and other congregate living settings and institutions as per provincial guidance and / or directives, or as directed by public health units

    What does 'highest risk setting' mean?

    Highest risk settings include:

    • Hospitals, including complex continuing care facilities and paramedic services
    • Congregate living settings, including long-term care, retirement homes, First Nation elder care lodges, group homes, shelters, hospices and correctional institutions

    All other settings are considered non-highest risk.

  • Rapid tests (if available to you)

    Rapid antigen tests and rapid molecular tests can provide results in about 15 minutes and help to stop the spread of COVID-19. See instructions on how to perform rapid antigen testing.

    If you test positive on a rapid antigen test, no further testing is required unless you're eligible for lab PCR testing (see above). See self-isolation for instructions.

    Niagara Region Public Health doesn't distribute or manage access to rapid antigen testing. Rapid antigen test are managed by the Province of Ontario. Find out where you can get free rapid antigen tests.

  • Take home PCR self-collection kits (if available to you)

    Some individuals may have access to take-home polymerase chain reaction (PCR) self-collection kits, where they are able to complete the self-collection at home and drop the kit off at a location in their community to be processed at a lab.

    See instructions on how to complete a deep nasal kitcombined throat and both nostrils kit or a combined oral and deep nasal kit are available to support the use of these kits.

    Once you have collected your sample, you will need to send it to a laboratory for testing.  Find testing locations that accepts PCR self-collection kits (search by postal code and filter by “services available”).

Where to get tested

You can only book a test if you're eligible.

You can also get tested at the following clinics if you meet the eligibility criteria. You don't need to be a patient at these clinics to receive a COVID-19 test. This is not a full list of testing locations.

  • Fort Erie: Fort Erie Medical Clinic drive-through testing by appointment only. To book an appointment, email
  • Fort Erie: Dr. Scher / Dr. Marchi offer PCR testing in the parking lot, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 - 10 a.m. For a testing referral, call 905-688-8248 and press 7 then 2.
  • St. Catharines: PromptDoc Clinic by appointment or walk-in. Walk-in testing available during specific hours only.
  • St. Catharines: Lifelabs is offering COVID-19 testing by appointment only, on Saturdays between 1 - 4 p.m. Book online or call 1-877-313-4982.

A select number of pharmacies in Niagara offer testing by appointment only. Other restrictions also apply. See criteria for getting tested at a participating pharmacy. Find a participating pharmacy near you.

Taking your child for a COVID-19 test

There are now less invasive testing procedures available. When you take your child for a test, you may ask for the cheek / nose testing method. A video about nasal swabs for kids is available to watch with your child to help understand how the test will go.

How to get your COVID-19 test results

Ask the health care professional taking your swab / COVID-19 test how you'll be receiving your test 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. See Provincial portal, Niagara Health Navigator or MyChart below.

    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 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.

  • 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.

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 ext. 52451 and ask for the Release of Information Office. Watch this video to learn how to find your COVID-19 test results.

What your COVID-19 test results mean

  • If your COVID-19 test is positive

    If you test positive on a COVID-19 test (rapid antigen test or PCR) you must self-isolate.

  • If your COVID-19 test is negative

    Lab PCR test for symptomatic individuals

    If you tested negative on a lab PCR test, you should still isolate and remain home until your symptom(s) have been improving for 24 hours (48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present). In this way, you're limiting the spread of other illnesses you may have had, such as cold, flu, other viral respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.

    Rapid antigen test

    A single test cannot rule out COVID-19 infection by itself.

    If two consecutive rapid antigen tests, separated by 24 to 48 hours, are both negative, you should still isolate and remain home until symptom(s) have been improving for 24 hours or 48 hours if gastrointestinal symptoms are present. In this way, you're limiting the spread of other illnesses you may have had, such as cold, flu, other viral respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.

    Your household members may also discontinue isolation if you have two consecutive negative RAT results, separated by 24 to 48 hours.

Reporting test results to Public Health

If you live or work in a congregate setting or are a health care worker, report your positive rapid antigen test using this online reporting portal.

Parents / guardians of school-aged children can report their child's positive PCR and rapid antigen tests on the school reporting portal.

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