Ontario expected to announce free rapid test kits at grocery stores and pharmacies
Free rapid test kits for COVID-19 will soon be available at grocery stores and pharmacies in Ontario, according to sources cited by multiple Toronto news outlets on Tuesday night.
Based on information from unnamed sources within the provincial government, both CTV and CityNews have confirmed that Health Minister Christine Elliott will announce the free rapid tests on Wednesday morning.
Sources say that the rapid antigen tests (often called RATs) will be distributed in quantities of about five million per week across the province.
They will reportedly begin showing up at grocery stores, pharmacies and potentially other, yet-to-be-revealed channels starting later this week.
"Sources say the free distribution is possible because Doug Ford's government has been able to directly procure rapid tests in an effort to stabilize supply, and are now in a position to expand access to them," reports City.
Of the 54.3 million rapid tests that the federal government committed to provide Ontario last month, 36.4 million have so far been delivered.
Ontario has received 75 million rapid tests to date, and has so far distributed 80 million across a variety of sectors, including health care, education and retail.
According to CTV, the free tests will be limited to "one box per household with each box containing five tests."
Rapid antigen tests were in high demand when the last Omicron-fuelled wave of COVID-19 prompted a return to strict lockdown measures.
Lineups formed outside malls, transit stations, select LCBO locations and other pop-up sites for free tests ahead of the holiday season, as travellers sought out ways to confirm their COVID statuses once PCR tests were limited again to only the most-vulnerable of Ontarians.
Distributors at pop-up sites ran out within hours, forcing people to buy their own expensive tests from retailers (when in stock) or turn to the black market where some parents started re-selling the tests their kids had been sent home from school with.
With case numbers falling and the worst of the pandemic (hopefully) now behind us, let's hope the tests aren't needed as much as they were one month ago.
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