Pharmacy association urges province to expand PCR travel testing


As the journey begins, a union representing Ontario’s pharmacists is lobbying the province to expand the number of pharmacies allowed to offer PCR tests – the gold standard for assessing whether someone has Have COVID-19.

“With plans to ease border restrictions over the next several weeks, I think you’re definitely going to see a spike in [demand]Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said.

“So having more availability of more places will only help.”

Although vaccinated passengers no longer have to quarantine On their return to Canada, they still needed To provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test before coming home – and to have a second test on arrival.

Many countries now require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a plane from Canada.

More than 2,000 pharmacies want to test

Also known as polymerase chain reaction testing, PCR testing is used by the province’s public health unit testing centers to reliably determine whether someone has COVID-19.

Results take 24 to 48 hours to arrive, but they are more reliable than rapid tests that can provide results in less than 45 minutes.

While 211 Ontario pharmacies are authorized to provide PCR testing, more than 2,000 pharmacies want to keep that option, Bates said.

“It hasn’t really expanded by any meaningful measure over the past 10 months,” Bates said.

Testing requirements depend on where air travelers are going: for example, the United States requires a negative PCR or rapid antigen test, Russia only accepts a negative PCR test, and Mexico. A negative test is not required.

Earlier this month, Ottawa’s COVID-19 assessment centers also began providing PCR tests for travelers to support pharmacies. Some private companies also provide the test.

Jordan Clarke, owner of Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacy, says more people are looking for rapid COVID-19 tests as they prepare to travel, visit their loved ones in long-term care or even visit their loved ones. They also attend summer camps. 0:39

Rising demand means some pharmacies are now looking at the lineup, something that doesn’t surprise Ottawa pharmacist Jordan Clark.

“I think people, after 18 months of not traveling, are ready to get back on the plane and travel and see family,” said Clark, who only offers rapid antigen tests at her pharmacy. authorized to.

While Clark is not authorized to provide PCR tests for travelers, he is able to give them for other reasons approved by the province – for example, if someone needs to visit a long-term care facility.

He said the passengers would not need new skills to take the exam.

cover costs, too

While the OPA has asked the health ministry to expand the number of pharmacies eligible to offer PCR testing to travelers, the ministry was not able to provide a response in time for publication.

“Having more access points only makes sense,” Bates said, adding, “We have a lot of interested pharmacies, especially in the North, and areas where access to testing centers isn’t as convenient or local.”

OPA is also asking the province to cover the cost of tests needed for “essential travel” such as funerals or family distress.

The PCR test — which can cost between $130 and $200 at a pharmacy — was covered by the province for travel-related reasons until late last year.

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