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

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Machine pistol among 14 firearms seized from Alaska man at Abbotsford border crossing

Corey Scott Kettering faces charges of smuggling and prohibited firearm possession

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

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

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

Most Read