Pharmacies in Eastern Ontario offer COVID-19 testing to symptomatic clients

CARLETON PLACE, ONT. – Hundreds of pharmacies across Ontario will now be able to offer COVID-19 testing to individuals who show symptoms of the virus.

Until this time, pharmacies could only test people who were asymptomatic. The Ontario Pharmacists Association says the change will provide easier access to testing for residents and is an important tool in combating the pandemic.

“So we have up to 1,300 who have expressed interest and those pharmacies will be on board over the next few weeks,” said the association’s CEO Justin Bates.

One of the pharmacies joining the change and the only pharmacy that has participated in Carleton Place so far is Seaway Valley Pharmacy. Owner and Pharmacist Ebram Ghobrial says pharmacies are the easiest place to care for many in their communities.

“When winter comes, I would say some people will have some symptoms and they are not sure if it is flu or COVID,” Ghobrial says. “So in order for them to be safe, they want to perform such a test.”

Following the announcement, there were questions about the safety of others at the pharmacies when symptomatic patients enter the building for COVID-19 testing. To combat this, Bates says all symptomatic tests should be performed by appointment booked in advance.

“So no confusion goes in, trades at other times, which will reduce or lessen the risk of other shoppers shopping getting the virus,” Bates told CTV News.

Another option for pharmacists is to perform the tests outdoors. Bates says the test must be performed on the pharmacy’s property, which means it can be performed outside the front door, in a parking lot or even at a vehicle window.

“If I notice they have symptoms and it’s more than serious,” Ghobrial explains. “What I can do is ask them to stay in their car out here in the parking lot and I can go out there to take the test.”

Visit the provincial website to find a pharmacy near you that will perform a symptomatic COVID test.

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