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

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

COVID on Central Coast prompts call for information sharing

At least four cases have been identified on the central coast

NAALS receives funding for new child care centre

This project incorporates a longhouse design and reflects a Nuxalk architectural approach.

Lorena Draney celebrates 100th birthday in Bella Coola

She still knows how to enjoy a good party!

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

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

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

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

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Most Read