Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for COVID-19 are now available to the public for free from the health unit. Test kits can be picked up at all health unit offices (excluding the 80 Bradford St. clinic in Barrie) during regular business hours while supplies last.
Although anyone can access a RAT kit, they are especially recommended for individuals who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, such as those over age 60 and those who have medical conditions or are immuno-compromised. This is because there is an effective oral anti-viral medication against COVID-19 for those higher risk groups. To find out in advance or when you fall ill if you would be eligible and recommended for this treatment if you test positive for COVID-19, go to the provincial anti-viral screener .
Previously, free RAT kits were available through some retailers and pharmacies throughout Ontario. However, due to lower transmission rates of COVID-19, the province ended its distribution of the free rapid antigen tests to these locations on June 30, instead making them available through public health units. Local retailers and pharmacies will continue to offer these free test kits to the public while their supplies last.
Over the past several months, Simcoe Muskoka has also experienced a decrease in reported confirmed COVID-19 cases, a decline in COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths, and the Community Risk Level has consistently remained at the ‘Lower (Caution)’ level. During this period of lower COVID-19 rates the health unit has adjusted the frequency of reporting on the state of the virus in the community from weekly to monthly. Currently, COVID-19 HealthSTATS pages are updated on the first Thursday of each month, with the next report being issued on Aug. 3. The COVID-19 Community Risk Level has been taken down for the summer months and will resume in the fall when COVID-19 activity increases in our community.
For more information about COVID-19 and how to access a rapid antigen test kit from the health unit, visit www.smdhu.org/COVID19 or call Health Connection weekdays 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 705-721-7520 or 1-877-721-7520.
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