A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Health Canada reverses course, will review applications for COVID-19 home tests

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer said the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosing COVID-19 involves taking a nasal swab

Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices.

In June, the department indicated it would not review such applications.

But Cole Davidson, a spokesman for Health Minister Patty Hajdu, says that was meant to apply to test kits for diagnosing cases of COVID-19.

Due to the evolution of the pandemic since then, he says Health Canada is now considering applications for at-home testing devices for screening purposes.

Davidson says Health Canada, which regulates the safety of all medical devices sold in the country, “is open to reviewing all testing solutions.”

In a statement Tuesday, Hajdu says a Health Canada official “misspoke” in confirming earlier this week that applications for home testing kits would not be reviewed.

“Early diagnosis is critical to slowing and reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Canada,” she said.

“We made emergency changes to allow faster access to COVID-19 tests in Canada, and Health Canada has already authorized a number of testing devices. I want to be clear that Health Canada continues to work with hundreds of manufacturers that are using new and innovative technologies.

“The official in this case misspoke and Health Canada is open to reviewing all testing solutions as they become available and are proven effective.”

Davidson said that “includes approaches that use self-collection and/or at-home test kits, in particular for screening purposes.”

Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said the “gold standard” for diagnosing COVID-19 remains the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a nasal swab.

It will continue to be used in instances where ”it’s very important to critically get the result right, for example a sick person in intensive care in the hospital or someone who is symptomatic in a long term care facility,” Njoo said.

But he said other tests, like home testing devices, could be used in other less critical scenarios, such as regular screening for COVID-19 in workplaces.

“It’s quite complicated but the bottom line is we’re open to examining all types of testing technologies because the more tools we have in the toolbox in terms of different types of tests available to use in different types of contexts, the better,” Njoo said.

READ MORE: How many Canadians will need to get vaccinated against COVID-19? Officials aren’t sure

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Six additional COVID-19 cases overnight in Interior Health region

The total number of cases within the region is now at 486

Controversy in Fraser-Nicola riding as NDP names their candidate

Entire riding association executive resigns after Aaron Sumexheltza wins NDP nomination

New physician unexpectedly leaves Ashcroft clinic

Dr. Stephen Akinkuni started work at the Ashcroft Family Medical Practice in March 2020

Lions want to make Smile Cookies campaign a roaring success

One hundred per cent of funds raised will go back into the community

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read