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Rapid Testing At Home

Last updated: September 28, 2022
Use a rapid antigen test at home to find out if you have COVID-19. The results will be ready in less than 20 minutes.

Rapid antigen tests are available for free at many community pharmacies. You don’t have to show ID. If you can’t go to a pharmacy, a friend or family member can pick up a test kit for you. 
Find a participating pharmacy

Using an at-home kit
Rapid tests are done by collecting a sample from each nostril, using a swab. The swab will only go a few centimetres inside your nose; it should not hurt. Use tests only as directed.

  • Kids 14 years and younger shouldn't use a test without adult supervision,
  • Do not swallow the solutions, and avoid eye and skin contact,
  • Wash hands thoroughly after use,
  • Keep the test components out of reach of children and animals,
  • Used tests and components can be safely disposed of in household garbage,
  • Rapid antigen tests are not suitable for international travel requirements,
  • All rapid antigen tests described in this section have been approved for use by Health Canada. 
Each kit comes with instructions on how to use the tests. Follow the instructions for the test device you are using. You can also ask the pharmacist if you have questions. Download instructions:

If you need assistance with the rapid antigen testing instructions including for people with sight loss, please call 8-1-1.

Videos

How to perform a nasal swab at home
Instructions are available in American Sign Language.


How parents and caregivers can use a COVID-19 rapid antigen test on a child


Videos provide a general guide to at-home rapid testing, follow the specific instructions for your test. 

Expiry dates

A number of rapid antigen tests have had their expiry dates extended with Health Canada approval, after additional quality testing of the components of the test kits.

All expiration dates have been extended from the expiration date you see on the rapid test kit components for the BD Veritor and Abbott Panbio (nasal and NP) tests that are in use in B.C.

Abbott Panbio test


Instructions document is currently available in the following languages: 

There are three videos to help guide you through the process. Read through the instructions and watch the videos before you begin.

  • Blow your nose and discard the tissue 
  • Do not use this test if you have a nose bleed
  • Wash your hands with soap
  • Gather all testing equipment

You will need: 

  • 1x test device
  • 1x sterile swab
  • Buffer liquid vial
  • 1x test tube with blue cap
  • small glass or cup
  • A timer 
  • Garbage can
  • Twist the top off the buffer liquid vial.
  • Squeeze all the buffer liquid into the test tube. 
  • Place the filled test tube in a holder like a clean glass or cup
  • Remove the swab from the packaging. Touch only the plastic handle.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Insert the cotton end of the swab straight back (not up) into one nostril for 2.5 cm.
  • Place the swab against the inside of your nose. Gently twist 5 times.
  • Repeat in your other nostril with the same swab.
Watch the video below for instructions.

Panbiotest_1.PNG

Swab

  • Gently insert the cotton end of the swab into the test tube:
  • Swirl the swab gently and slowly in the liquid 5 times, pressing it against the sides of the tube.
  • With the swab inside, pinch the outside of the tube with your fingers to get the remaining liquid out of the swab tip.
  • Break the swab at the break-point there is an indentation. Leave the swab in the tube.
  • Screw the blue cap on the tube.

Test device

  • Open a test device and place it on a flat surface.
  • Remove the white nozzle cap of the tube.
  • Slowly squeeze 5 drops onto the circle on the test device

Watch the video below for instructions.

PerformingPanbiotest.PNG

  1. Set a timer for 15 minutes 
  2. Check your result. Your result could be:
    • Positive
    • Negative 
    • Invalid
  3. Put all testing equipment in the garbage
  4. Wash your hands.

Watch this short video for more instructions:

Interpretingtestresults.PNG


Artron

Open the instructions for using your Artron test

Instructions document is currently available in the following languages: 


Blow your nose and discard the tissue 

  • Do not use this test if you have a nose bleed
  • Wash your hands with soap
  • Gather all testing equipment

You will need: 

  • 1x sterile swab
  • 1x test tube with buffer liquid
  • 1x cap for test tube
  • Test tube rack or a small glass
  • 1x test device
  • A timer and garbage can
 

  • Peel the foil off the filled test tube.
  • Place the filled test tube in the test tube holder or a clean glass or cup


 
  • Remove the swab from the packaging. Touch only the plastic handle.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Insert the cotton end of the swab straight back (not up) into one nostril for 1.5 cm.
  • Turn the swab against the inside of your nose for 5 seconds.
  • Place the swab against the inside of your nose to sample nasal fluid. Gently and slowly rotate 5 times.
  • Repeat the same steps in your other nostril.
  • Do not use the swab for testing if there is any blood on it. Blow your nose and use a clean swab. If you have had a nose bleed wait 24 hours before testing.


 
  • Gently insert the cotton end of the swab into the test tube.
  • Swirl the swab gently in the liquid 10 times.
  • With the swab inside, pinch the outside of the tube with your fingers to get the remaining liquid out of the swab tip.
  • Remove the swab and put it in the garbage.
  • Push the cap firmly on the test tube.
Test device
  • Open a test device and place it on a flat surface.
  • Slowly squeeze 4 drops onto the circle on the test device, do not touch the device with the test tube.
 
  • Set a timer for 30 minutes. Readings after 30 minutes may not be accurate. 
  • Do not move the test device during this time.
  • Check your result. Your result could be:
    • Positive
    • Negative 
    • Invalid
  • Put all testing equipment in the garbage
  • Wash your hands.


 
 

BD Veritor

Open the instructions for using your BD Veritor rapid antigen test device.

Instructions document is currently available in the following languages: 


  • Blow your nose and discard the tissue 
  • Do not use this test if you have a nose bleed
  • Wash your hands with soap
  • Gather all testing equipment
You will need
  • 1x sterile swab
  • 1x test tube with yellow cap and liquid
  • Test tube holder 
  • a small glass or cup (optional)
  • 1x test device
  • A timer and garbage can

Place the test tube in the test tube holder or a clean glass or cup.

  • Remove swab from packaging, touch only the plastic handle.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Insert the cotton end of the swab straight back (not up) into one nostril for 2.5 cm or when you meet resistance.
  • Turn the swab against the inside of your nose 5 times.
  • Repeat same steps in your other nostril.
  • Do not use the swab for testing if there is any blood on it. Blow your nose and use a clean swab. 
  • Gently insert the cotton end of the swab into the test tube.
  • Plunge the swab up and down in the liquid for 15 seconds.
  • With the swab inside, pinch the outside of the tube with your fingers to get the remaining liquid out of the swab tip.
  • Remove the swab from the tube and put in the garbage.
  • Push the plastic cap attached to the tube firmly on the tube. You should hear a faint click sound.
  • Gently tap the side of the tube a few times to mix the solution.
Test device
  • Open a test device and place it on a flat surface.
  • Slowly squeeze 3 drops onto the sample square on the test device.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes. Readings after 20 minutes may not be accurate. 
  • Do not move the test device during this time.
  • Check your result. Your result could be:
    • Positive
    • Negative 
    • Invalid
  • Put all testing equipment in the garbage.
  • Wash your hands.

BTNX


Instructions document is currently available in the following languages: 

ASL | Arabic | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Farsi | French | Korean | Punjabi | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tigrinya | Russian | Ukrainian

Follow the instructions in the second column for the nasal swab sampling (Step 2 - Option B)

  • Blow your nose and discard the tissue 
  • Do not use this test if you have a nose bleed
  • Wash your hands with soap
  • Gather all testing equipment
You will need
  • 1x sterile swab
  • 1x test tube
  • Plastic vial with buffer liquid
  • Test tube rack or a small glass
  • 1x test device
  • Timer and garbage can
  • Twist the top off the buffer liquid vial.
  • Squeeze all the buffer liquid into the test tube. 
  • Place the filled test tube in the test tube holder or a clean glass or cup.
  • Remove the swab from the packaging. Touch only the plastic handle.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Insert the cotton end of the swab straight back (not up) into one nostril for 2.5 cm or when you meet resistance
  • Turn the swab against the inside of your nose for 5 seconds.
  • Press the side of your nose with your finger to trap the swab. Rotate the swab for 5 seconds
  • Repeat same steps in your other nostril.
  • Do not use the swab for testing if there is any blood on it. Blow your nose and use a clean swab. If you have had a nose bleed wait 24 hours before testing.
  • Gently insert the cotton end of the swab into the test tube:
  • Swirl the swab gently in the liquid and squeeze the swab with the sides of the tube 10-15 times.
  • Place the tube in the glass or test tube rack and leave with the swab in the solution for 2 minutes.
  • With the swab inside, pinch the outside of the tube with your fingers to get the remaining liquid out of the swab tip.
  • Remove the swab and put in the garbage.
  • Attach the nozzle to the tube.

Test device

  • Open a test device and place it on a flat surface.
  • Slowly squeeze 3 drops onto the circle on the test device.
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes. Readings after 20 minutes may not be accurate.
  • Do not move the test device during this time.
  • Check your result. Your result could be:
    • Positive
    • Negative 
    • Invalid
  • Put all testing equipment in the garbage
  • Wash your hands.

SD Biosensor

Open the instructions for using your SD Biosensor rapid antigen test device.

ASL | Arabic | Simplified Chinese | Traditional Chinese | Farsi | French | Korean | Punjabi | Spanish | Vietnamese | Tigrinya

  • Blow your nose and discard the tissue 
  • Do not use this test if you have a nose bleed
  • Wash your hands with soap
  • Gather all testing equipment

You will need: 

  • 1x sterile swab
  • 1x test tube with liquid
  • Nozzle cap for tube
  • Test tube holder 
  • a small glass or cup (optional)
  • 1x test device
  • A timer and garbage can

  • Carefully peel the sealed cap off the test tube
  • Place the test tube in the test tube holder or a clean glass or cup


 
  • Remove swab from packaging, touch only the plastic handle.
  • Tilt your head back.
  • Insert the cotton end of the swab straight back (not up) into one nostril for 2.5 cm or when you meet resistance
  • Turn the swab against the inside of your nose at least 4 times.
  • Repeat same steps in your other nostril.
  • Do not use the swab for testing if there is any blood on it. Blow your nose and use a clean swab. 


 
  • With the swab inside, with your fingers and stir the swab 10 times.
  • Remove the swab from the tube while pinching the sides of the tube to squeeze the cotton tip.
  • Put the swab in the garbage.
  • Push the plastic nozzle cap firmly on the tube.
Test device
  • Open a test device and place it on a flat surface.
  • Slowly squeeze 4 drops onto the sample circle on the test device


 
  • Set a timer for 15 minutes. Readings after 30 minutes may not be accurate.
  • Do not move the test device during this time.
  • Check your result. Your result could be:
    • Positive
    • Negative 
    • Invalid
  • Put all testing equipment in the garbage
  • Wash your hands.


 


Test results

Remember, it can take 3 to 7 days after infection for there to be enough antigens to be detected by the test. If a person with COVID-19 tests too soon after they become infected, the test result can incorrectly show as negative; this is called a false negative.

Rapid antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests. This means that the chances of a false-negative test are higher with rapid antigen tests than PCR tests. The sensitivity of rapid antigen tests is higher for people with symptoms than for people without symptoms. 

For this reason, public health recommends using rapid antigen tests only for people with COVID-19 symptoms. People who are eligible for treatment can test with a rapid antigen test as soon as they feel unwell. Seek medical care if you feel you need it, regardless of whether you test positive or negative.

If you are blind or partially sighted and need assistance to read your rapid antigen test result the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, CNIB recommends the free service provided by Be My Eyes

Negative result

For people who are not eligible for treatment
  • If your result is negative, it means COVID-19 was not detected. It is still possible that you have COVID-19.
  • Stay home until your symptoms improve, you don’t have a fever, and you feel well enough to return to regular activities.
For people who are eligible for treatment
  • If you continue to feel sick or your symptoms worsen, repeat the test in 24 hours.
  • You may repeat the test every day for 5 days as long as you feel you are not improving. If the test remains negative by day 5 of your illness, it is unlikely you have COVID-19.
  • If you are concerned about your health, you should contact your health care provider. They may suggest additional testing based on a clinical evaluation. 

Positive result

If your result is positive, it means COVID-19 was detected. You likely have COVID-19 and you could pass it on to others. 

  • If you are fully vaccinated or under 18 years of age: Self-isolate for at least 5 days from the first day you had symptoms. 
  • If you are not fully vaccinated and 18 years of age or older: Self-isolate for at least 10 days from the first day you had symptoms.
For information on next steps including checking if you may benefit from treatment, ending isolation, managing symptoms, go to:
I have COVID-19


There are some treatments available for people who tested positive for COVID-19, who are not in hospital, and are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. To find out if you may benefit from treatment and how to get the treatment, visit:  gov.bc.ca/covidtreatments

Invalid result

  • If your test is not valid, discard all the pieces from the first test.
  • Wash your hands and repeat the process using a second set of test pieces.
  • Follow the test instructions again.  
Common questions

Rapid antigen tests are recommended for use by people who currently have symptoms of COVID-19.  The tests are not recommended for children under 5 years because if the test is not carried out by a healthcare provider the swab can injure their nose.

See answers to frequently asked questions about rapid antigen testing at home.

Rapid antigen tests are recommended for use by people who currently have symptoms of COVID-19.  The tests are not recommended for children under 5 years because if the test is not carried out by a healthcare provider the swab can injure their nose.

No. False positives with rapid antigen tests are rare. 
If you test positive for COVID-19 you need to self-isolate for at least 5 or 10 days depending on your age and vaccination status. Your symptoms must also have improved and fever is gone without the use of fever-reducing medication before ending isolation.
 
Rapid antigen tests are best at detecting COVID-19 when used by those who are experiencing symptoms. A negative result means that COVID-19 was not detected at that time. It does not guarantee you do not have COVID-19. 

If you believe you were exposed to COVID-19 you can choose to avoid non-essential visits to high-risk people or settings for a few days while you monitor for symptoms. The safest way to spend time with unvaccinated or high-risk people is in outdoor settings or inside- with windows open, and wearing a well-fitted mask/respirator.
 
Generally, people who are symptomatic and test negative should stay home until they feel well enough to participate in regular day-to-day activities. You do not need to test again as many respiratory infections have similar symptoms. 

People who are eligible for treatment can repeat the test in 24 hours if you continue to feel sick or your symptoms worsen. You may repeat the test every day for 5 days as long as you feel you are not improving. If the test remains negative by day 5 of your illness, it is unlikely you have COVID-19.

If you have difficulty managing your symptoms, or if you are eligible for antiviral treatment for COVID-19, then you should consult your healthcare provider.


After a positive COVID-19 test you should self-isolate for at least 5 or 10 days depending on your age, and vaccination status. After this time you can return to your normal activities if your symptoms have improved and you no longer have a fever. If your symptoms continue, stay home until you feel better and seek care if you cannot manage your symptoms at home.

You do not need a negative rapid antigen test as proof that it is safe to return to your normal activities.



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SOURCE: Rapid Testing At Home ( )
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