COVID-19 in NB: The distribution of rapid tests will soon be stopped


Distribution of rapid COVID-19 tests in New Brunswick will no longer be distributed through municipal distribution sites when the current supply runs out, which the province says will likely occur by the end of next month.

A news release from the New Brunswick government on Thursday said testing has not been recommended for the general public since March 2023, except for some specific groups. Separate testing guidelines continue to apply for certain facilities, such as special nursing homes.

“However, our guidance has changed over the course of the pandemic as the virus has evolved,” said Dr. Yves Léger, acting chief medical officer of health for the province. “Testing is still recommended for certain groups, but the focus is on the general public to stay home if you are sick. That remains the most important measure.”

Laboratory-based PCR testing remains available to anyone who has a referral from a doctor or nurse, including those eligible for Paxlovid treatment.

Léger said PCR tests remain the preferred option for those eligible to be tested because they provide reliable results and can test for other infections such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV.

The government press release said the decision to stop distributing rapid breaks follows the federal government's decision in March to stop sending tests to provinces.

“Public Health continues to recommend that New Brunswickers practice basic healthy behaviors such as staying home when sick, covering their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing, washing their hands regularly, and having a good brush in crowded places to wear a seated mask,” the press release states.

“In addition, good ventilation can help protect people from respiratory infections.”

Anyone with concerns about symptoms of COVID-19 should call their healthcare provider, Tele-Care 811, or use eVisitNB's online healthcare services.

Free rapid testing will remain available at distribution sites across the province until supplies last.

People can book a pickup appointment using the online appointment scheduler. Other rapid tests can be purchased online or at local pharmacies.

The government announcement adds that the tests remaining in the government's inventory will expire in September.

Anyone who has rapid tests at home is advised to monitor the expiry date on the packaging and dispose of them in normal household waste once the expiry date has passed.

For more news from New Brunswick, visit our dedicated provincial page.