TORONTO -- One of Ontario’s biggest retail pharmacy chains will now offer rapid antigen COVID-19 tests across the province.

In a news release, Shoppers Drug Mart said that starting today, customers who are not exhibiting symptoms and who have not been in contact with someone that is COVID-19 positive can purchase a test for $40.

Unlike the real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test currently offered by the province, which can take up to 48 hours to process, the rapid test can provide results within 15 to 20 minutes.

And while the rapid test is less sensitive than the traditional PCR test, it can detect an active COVID-19 infection by detecting the presence of antigens or specific proteins on a virus’s surface, the company said.

"To get through this pandemic, we all need to follow public health guidelines, get vaccinated, and continue testing and screening in order to stop the spread of COVID-19," said Ashesh Desai, Executive Vice President, Pharmacy and Healthcare, Shoppers Drug Mart.

It should be noted that Shoppers says that a preliminary positive screening for COVID-19 would require a follow up test at a provincially-run COVID-19 assessment centre to confirm the diagnosis.

Also, those who have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days, have been advised to get tested through the COVID-19 Alert app, or have previously tested positive for COVID-19 cannot book a screening.

The testing campaign is also being made available in Alberta.

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