Rapid Screening

Rapid antigen screens (commonly known as rapid testing) can quickly detect COVID-19 in infected people and help to identify and reduce risk of further infections. 

Rapid Screening is available for all on-site employees across the country.  


If I test positive, do I need to continue testing myself?

If an employee tests positive with the rapid screen they must follow local public health guidance, including any self-isolation requirements. Employees must review the online Employee Wellness Checklist applicable to their province to determine if they meet the wellness criteria and can return to work. Following a positive rapid antigen test, employees do not need to continue to test themselves. It is recommended that employees wait for 6 weeks to resume screening as it is very unlikely that you will contract a new infection within this time frame. 

Where is rapid screening offered at Canadian Blood Services?

Rapid screening is being rolled out to all on-site employees. You will receive information from your local leadership team when the program is ready to start at your site.

How accurate is rapid screening?

The rapid antigen screens approved by Health Canada and in use at Canadian Blood Services are exceptionally accurate. Fewer than one per cent of all positive results are later proven false through diagnostic COVID-19 PCR tests administered through public health.   

False negative results are slightly more common. It is possible, for instance, that someone recently infected with COVID-19 will test negative. For this reason, employees must test twice a week, as close to their shift as possible, and continue to remain vigilant with all existing safety measures.

What rapid-screening test are being used?

All the devices used by the program are approved by Health Canada.  Currently our inventory includes:

What is rapid antigen screening?

An antigen test involves exposing a liquid sample to reactive molecules. The test detects fragments of proteins and produces a preliminary result quickly, much like the pregnancy tests available from drug stores.    

Rapid antigen screens can quickly detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people, helping to identify and reduce the risk of further infections.  

How accurate are the rapid antigen tests?

If you test positive with a rapid antigen test, you can be fairly confident that you have COVID-19.  

If you test negative on a single rapid antigen test, this should be interpreted as that you are at a low likelihood of being infectious, but you could still have COVID-19 (and might become infectious later on). This is because a negative rapid antigen test is not enough to completely rule out COVID-19 because the test is not sensitive enough to detect all COVID-positive people, especially if you are in the very early stages of infection. Frequent testing (twice a week) can allow for the detection of individuals who might initially have had levels of virus that were too low to be detected by the first screen. 

What if I screen positive?

If you enter a positive result, your manager or supervisor will be alerted, and you cannot come to work. You will be required to self-isolate and follow the guidance provided to you by the COVID-19 case management program. Depending upon your jurisdiction, you may be eligible to seek a COVID-19 diagnostic test through your local public health, in which case, you will be required to provide the result of your COVID-19 diagnostic test to your manager as soon as the result is known. You will also be required to enter that result into the App. If you receive a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test, you may return to work.  If you receive a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test, you must follow public health direction and self-isolate.   

Do I need to get a PCR test to confirm that I have COVID-19?

In most provinces, individuals participating in routine asymptomatic rapid testing who have a positive result are not eligible for a PCR confirmatory test. Please consult your local public health guidance to determine whether you are eligible for PCR testing. This is a rapidly evolving space so we encourage you to consult your local public health guidance to determine whether you can seek PCR confirmatory testing. Your manager and the EHS team can support you in making this determination.

I have symptoms of COVID-19. Can I use the rapid antigen tests provided by Canadian Blood Services? 

No. Canadian Blood Services is only permitted by governments to run a rapid screening program for asymptomatic individuals. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please follow your local public health guidance for testing and isolation. 

If I previously tested positive for COVID-19, can I participate in the rapid screening program? 

Yes!  There is some immunity that is acquired after a natural infection, but it is unknown how long this lasts (and it likely differs for the different variants).  In general, it is assumed that someone with a previous COVID-19 infection likely has good immunity for at least 6 weeks after infection. However, the longer you are from the infection, likely the greater the risk of re-infection.  

It is recommended that employees wait for 6 weeks to resume screening as it is very unlikely that you will contract a new infection within this time frame.  

If I have been vaccinated for COVID-19, should I participate in the program? 

Yes! Vaccination helps to protect against serious illness and hospitalization. Even when vaccinated there is a risk of becoming infected and transmitting the virus.  

Am I eligible for paid leave if I get a positive result from a rapid screening test?

Various paid leaves still exist to support employees for a variety of scenarios, including sick leave. For more information on your situation and whether you are eligible for paid leave, please reach out to your supervisor or PCP Business Partner. 

Why is it important that I screen regularly?

If you have screening too early in the course of infection, when the virus is still at low levels in your body, the screen may not detect the viral proteins yet. For this reason, we ask participants to test twice a week — if the COVID-19 infection is too early to be caught with the first screen, it will likely be caught with the second one. We also ask that staff remain vigilant with all existing safety measures.  

Does the nasal swab hurt?

No, the nasal swab used to perform the test does not hurt. You may find that your eyes water. Follow the instructions in the user guide on how to do the nasal swab. This test is much less uncomfortable than the nasopharyngeal swab that is required for PCR tests through public health.

How do I learn how to do rapid screening at home? Is it difficult?

You will be provided detailed instructions on how to do the nasal swab and test the sample.   

It is an easy test to perform, especially once you have done it a couple of times. It should only take you a few minutes to self-administer the swab and apply the sample to the test and then 15-20 minutes to wait for your result. There are instruction videos on the app to guide you, a user guides will be provided, and the rapid screening program is always available to help you (email: rapidscreeningprogram@blood.ca). 

Are there any special storage considerations for the home test kits?

You must store the test kits at 15°C to 30°C (room temperature) and leave them sealed in their foil pouches until just before use.  

If I am doing home screening, what are my responsibilities with these test kits?

 It is important that employees demonstrate effective stewardship of these supplies. This means:   

  • The test kits should only be used by the employee, not other members of their household.  
  • The sale or exchange of test kits is strictly prohibited.   
  • The test kits are sensitive to extreme temperatures, therefore cannot be stored or transported in hot or cold environments (e.g., outside or in your car).  
  • Employees must report the test results in the Rapid Screening App

What do I do with my testing waste when home screening? 

Used swabs, devices, kits and other contaminated materials must be disposed of in accordance with municipal bylaws.

What do I do when I run out of home test kits? 

Contact your site lead to arrange a time to pick-up more test kits. They will check that you have entered your previous results in the Rapid Screening App before providing more.   

I forgot to enter my test result in the app. What should I do?

Please email the Rapid Screening Program (rapidscreeningprogram@blood.ca) and indicate the date you took the test and the result.  

If you are having difficulty using the Rapid Screening App, please contact the rapidscreeningprogram@blood.ca for support.  

Who can answer other questions about the program?

If you have additional questions or concerns, we encourage you to speak with your manager/supervisor.

You can also send an email to rapidscreeningprogram@blood.ca.

Learn more about Canadian Blood Services’ COVID-19 response at www.blood.ca/employees.

Is there anything I should know about handling these devices?

  • Keep rapid antigen test kits and solutions out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Do not swallow the solutions, and avoid eye and skin contact.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after use.
  • If spillage occurs, rinse well with water.
  • Contact your local poison control centre in cases of accidental ingestion of chemicals or direct skin exposure.