COVID-19 - Learn about COVID-19 public health measures and get vaccinated.

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 even mild COVID-19 symptoms and are not eligible for a test, you 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

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 test result for employees to return to work after isolation.


It's possible to be reinfected with COVID-19. Even if you previously tested positive for COVID-19, if you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, follow the guidance for self-isolation and get tested if you can access a test as you may be infected again.

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.

    The Ministry of Health determines who is eligible for publically-funded PCR testing.

  • 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.

    Using a RAT before a social event, gathering or visit in a non-highest risk setting

    A non-highest risk setting is anywhere other than hospital or congregate living settings.

    If you don't have symptoms and don't have a known exposure to someone with COVID-19 and you have access to a rapid antigen test, you should take the test as close to the event as possible (e.g. on the same day, ideally within a few hours of the event).

    See "What your COVID-19 test results mean" for next steps.

    When completing a rapid antigen test at home, a combined oral and nasal swab can be performed by following the collection instructions as it may increase test accuracy compared to a nasal sample only.

    "How to" videos:

    To dispose of your rapid antigen test, it is recommended to double bag the used test components including the swab, tube with solution and testing cassette before placing in the garbage. These materials are not recyclable or compostable.

  • 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
  • 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 the Provincial portal or Niagara Health Navigator.

    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"
  • 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.

    Anti-viral treatment is available for some eligible individuals. If you have a mild to moderate case of COVID-19, it's important to reach out to a doctor right away. Treatment is most effective if administered within five days of symptom onset. You can access treatments by contacting:

  • 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 you have no fever and 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 you have no fever and 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.

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.

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