Rapid Antigen Screening
These screening kits are provided by the Ontario Government complimentary to Small and Medium-sized businesses as an additional tool to help keep workplaces in Ontario safe. Any misuse of the procedures can negatively impact the workplace. Care and attention to the proper process is essential for this tool to be effective.
The latest information from Health Canada suggests that up to 1/3 of people carrying the virus are asymptomatic causing little or no noticeable signs, however, over 50% of known cases were transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier. This makes it incredibly important to find asymptomatic carriers in order to combat the spread and get to more normalized community life.
A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g. on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes approximately 15 minutes to yield a result.
Frequent screening with rapid antigen tests increases the chances of early identification of cases in asymptomatic individuals ONLY. Recommended frequency is twice per employee, per week.
Ontario has also released guidance for organizations that choose to participate in COVID-19 testing that falls outside of the public health care system, to ensure there is appropriate oversight and consumer protection and that public resources are supporting public health initiatives.
Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions
Who can businesses give screening kits to and who can we screen?
At this time you CANNOT give kits to anyone. They are ONLY for use with your employees that are frequently coming to the workplace.
You also cannot screen anyone else other than employees coming to the workplace, this is essential as reporting presumptive positives or inconclusive results may call into question your ability/authority to do so. Employees have the right to refuse, but when they comply that is consent to collect and report the data.
What is the accuracy of these screens?
These are highly accurate in the range of 90% accurate; however, there are circumstances where they may show a false positive or false negative. In particular, this is why NO ONE SHOWING SYMPTOMS should be screened using these tests, as a false negative result might put the organization in a compromising position.
How do we dispose of the waste?
The screen pad and vial (with the swab and buffering agent in) are considered hazardous waste. Some businesses may have the ability to dispose of this, but failing that the Chamber has a disposal bin for you to bring your waste when refilling your order.
How is the screening administered – through the nostril or mouth?
Rapid Antigen Screening is a Nasal swab and not evasive. The requirement is the swab must be inserted into each nostril for 5 to 7 seconds 2 cm (1 inch) inside the nasal, while ensuring the inside of the nostril is wiped by the swab for that time.
What is the reporting responsibility our business has with respect to the results of the screens?
Businesses are no longer required to report their results for this program.
Full Frequently Asked Questions
How many staff can go to pick up and train for the screening kits and masks?
Due to safety protocols and our training area, we are limiting in-person visits to the facility. Send ONLY one person to pick up kits or masks.
Can I just drop in and pick up kits and masks for refills of my order?
While we will make it much faster for you as we will have you in and out to pick up, or on nice days a curbside option, we MUST insist on awaiting a confirmed pick-up time. It is important to keep the numbers of people down to reduce the opportunity of close contact. Please wait until you receive your time/day confirmation from email@example.com.
What is the next step if an employee has a positive or inconclusive result?
Anyone screening positive or inconclusive with a Workplace Self Screening test MUST immediately self-isolate and will not be permitted in the workplace. The individual must make an appointment for a laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test available at COVID-19 testing locations within 24 hours and stay home until the result of the PCR test is known. Public Health will contact those who receive a positive PCR test directly. Halton Region Public Health does NOT need to be notified of a positive Workplace Self Screening tests (rapid antigen tests).
Who can perform the screen on the employees?
The Ontario Government authorizes “self” screening using these kits. However, there is a requirement that a Screening Supervisor who has been trained via the video you watched at your initial pick-up and was sent after your initial order by email.
No one other than the employee should perform the swabbing procedure on any employee, the supervisor is there to instruct and ensure the procedure is followed for an accurate result.
Can I show my supervisors how to do the screens, have them watch the video in order to have them supervise the screens?
At this point, the Ministry of Health requires that a trained individual supervises the screening process. You will receive an email after your initial pick-up, contained in that email is a link to report results as well as a link to the training video to use as a refresher and/or train other supervisors.
What is the frequency we should be screening our employees?
The recommendation from public health is that all employees should be screened twice per week.
It is understood in some settings or with a higher frequency of close contact that some businesses will want to screen more than twice per week. Please advise us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would like to help but this will affect our required supply needs at the Chamber, and we need a bit of notice to alert our supplier.
Conversely, some may want to test less frequently or may have a variety of schedules that employees are in the workplace. It is really up to you, but please, put the safety of your employees first, and that will ensure you have a safe workplace
Do I only give screens for employees showing symptoms?
No. In fact, it should be recognized that anyone showing symptoms must be kept OUT of the workplace and must not be allowed to return until Local Public Health provides a confirmed Negative result from a diagnostic PCR Test.
It is allergy season and people are experiencing symptoms similar to COVID-19, should we avoid screening people that may be experiencing allergy symptoms, or should we screen them regardless?
Again, anyone showing symptoms that are similar to COVID-19, could in fact be infectious and should not be screened and diverted directly to public health for a PCR assessment.
While we recognize some symptoms can resemble allergies, the risk to the workplace may not be worth ignoring.
I am a consultant on workplace safety, can I order on behalf of my clients and screen their employees?
No. These kits are provided free of charge to small and medium-sized businesses for their sole purpose. A designated employee must be assigned the responsibility of taking the supervisor training, ensuring proper screening processes are adhered to and reporting on behalf of the employer the results of the screens. There are avenues available for third-party vendors to purchase their own kits and outside of this program to provide screening services, this program is intended to remain complimentary and direct to employer only.
Can I purchase extra kits so I can screen those I want to, if so, how much do they cost?
No. These are not for sale, we are not authorized to charge anyone for these kits. Conversely, the document you signed also requires that you not sell or distribute these as well.
The box of 25 kits is approximately $200 based on retail information we know of. They are expensive, and this is all funded by the Federal and Provincial Governments of Canada.
Do I have to be a member of the Oakville Chamber of Commerce to order the kits?
No, this program is open to all small and medium-sized employers within the Town of Oakville. Employers with over 150 employees can order through the Ontario government’s portal.
I am a volunteer/employee for an organization we have a number of volunteers that would like to meet regularly in person. Can these kits be used for that purpose?
No. These kits are not to be used to validate or substantiate not following public health guidelines. They are not intended to be used to verify negative carriers so guidance rules by the Province or local public health can be waived. Any person who screens presumptive negative MUST continue to follow public health guidelines of distancing, washing their hands, wearing a mask properly and adhering to public health gathering orders.
How do we dispose of the screening kits?
Please view the Ontario government’s guidelines for safe handling and disposal of the COVID-19 rapid screening kits.
Some of our Employees are required to travel for business, can this screen validate them for travel?
No. While this screen has extremely good reliability, this is not a tool for travel or usurping any Federal, Provincial or International guidelines.
I noticed there are two packages marked Control Swabs, what do we use them for?
Contained in each kit are two Control Swabs. One will produce a negative result, the other will produce a positive result. These are ONLY to be used for quality control purposes. If you are finding that the results are not showing up on the testing pads, you can follow the process in the manual provided to do a quality control check of the pads by simply following the same testing regime EXCEPT DO NOT SWAB ANYONE WITH THESE CONTROL SWABS, they have ingredients on them already to produce the results.
While the Positive Control Swab will show positive for COVID-19, there is nothing on the swab that is infectious or that will pass COVID-19 it is a pre-loaded swab and should not be used for anything other than quality control