General News

Rapid antigen test kits available as COVID-19 cases surge

January 11, 2024   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Over the past several months, Simcoe–Muskoka has experienced an increase in COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths.

The community risk level in the region remains at a ‘high’ level.

Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for COVID-19 are available to the public for free from the Simcoe Muskoka District 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 supplied last.

While anyone can access a RAT kit, they are especially recommended for individuals who are at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. This includes those over age 60 and those who have medical conditions or are immuno-compromised.

This is because there is an effective oral anti-viral treatment against COVID-19 for those higher-risk groups.

To find out if you are eligible and recommended for oral treatment if you test positive, you can go to the provincial anti-viral screener on the Province of Ontario website. This information will allow individuals to assess their own personal circumstances that could put them at higher risk.

The Health Unit recommends getting the current COVID-19 and influenza vaccines, as eligible, to reduce the risk of becoming severely ill. Individuals aged six months and older are able to receive the COVID-19 XBB vaccine formulation free of charge at participating local pharmacies and some health care providers.

The influenza vaccine is free of charge to individuals aged five years and older at participating local pharmacies, health care providers and health unit clinics.

In addition to getting vaccinated, it is important to layer protective measures to prevent illness by staying home when you are sick with any symptoms of respiratory illness and keeping children home from school or child care if they are ill.

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