Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
 

COVID-19 Testing Questions and Answers


On this page:




Why do I need to get tested?

Understanding the patterns and trends of COVID-19 transmission is an important part of Manitoba’s reopening strategy. Information about how COVID-19, including variants of concern, is spreading will give public health officials the data they need to gradually ease public health restrictions and make changes to other elements of the province’s COVID-19 response.

As Manitoba continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, your testing results are critical to help guide public health actions including rapidly finding cases, case isolation, and follow-up. Timely action will limit the effects of COVID-19 and help manage the province’s overall response.




When should I get tested?

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, you should isolate and use the online screening tool or Call Health Links - Info Santé for further information on isolation and to see if you should be tested. Testing should be done as soon as possible once symptoms appear. You should still be tested even if your symptoms are very mild or if they start to improve after 24 hours. It is important to get tested as soon as symptoms appear, as tracing and isolating contacts in a timely manner is important to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Isolation means staying home and keeping away from others, including household members if possible. If there are challenges with isolating at home, you can discuss alternative isolation options with your public health nurse. You should continue isolating for 10 days from the day symptoms started and until you no longer have a fever and the other symptoms are gone. If you get tested for COVID-19 and your test results are negative, you will be required to continue home isolation until you are symptom-free for 24 hours (but if you have been exposed to COVID-19 through close contact with a case or travel, you will need to continue self-isolating (quarantining) for the full 14 days from last exposure).

If your symptoms worsen (e.g., shortness of breath, breathing difficulties), or if you have questions or concerns, please call Health Links - Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or (toll-free) at 1-888-315-9257.




What if I have no symptoms, but have been identified as a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case?

You should be tested if you have been identified by public health as a close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case. You should go for testing 10 days after your last exposure to the case, regardless of whether you have symptoms. Testing is important to identify cases who may not be displaying symptoms as they can still contribute to the spread of COVID-19, including the more transmissible variants of concern. If your results are negative, you must continue self-isolating (quarantining) for the remainder of the 14 days from your last exposure, as there is still a chance that you may develop COVID-19.

Those who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine may work with their local public health office to determine if they are exempt from self-isolation.




Should I get tested if I travelled outside of Manitoba?

Yes. International travellers arriving or returning must follow self-isolation (quarantine) and testing guidance outlined in the Federal Quarantine Act. Domestic travellers should be tested for COVID-19 immediately upon arrival in Manitoba, regardless of if they are displaying symptoms, and whether they are visiting Manitoba or are returning from out of the province.  They should make an appointment with a provincial testing site or visit a drive-thru test site, and indicate at the time of testing that they have been outside of Manitoba and share the location of travel. They should also be tested again after 10 days, even if still asymptomatic, as long as they have not had a positive test within the last three months. Out of province travellers need to observe the full 14-day self-isolation (quarantine) period regardless of symptoms and test results. Re-testing is advised if an asymptomatic individual develops symptoms at any point, unless the individual had already recently tested positive.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and have had close contact to an out of province traveller should identify this contact to public health officials during the public health investigation and follow-up.




Who can get tested?

  • Individuals, from Manitoba or or visiting from out of province/country, experiencing symptoms can seek testing at any of the available testing locations throughout the province. They do not require a referral from Health Links - Info Santé or their family physician to be tested for COVID-19 at a community testing site.
    • This includes anyone residing in Manitoba, regardless of immigration status: and includes refugee claimants, migrant workers, international students, dependent children of temporary residents, and undocumented residents. These individuals should bring some form of government-issued photo ID, such as a passport, in order to be tested.
  • Individuals are encouraged to use the self-assessment tool to be certain they meet the necessary testing criteria before going to a community testing site. If you have symptoms that are not typical of COVID-19, but are worried, please speak with your health care provider or call Health Links - Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or (toll-free) at 1-888-315-9257.
  • Asymptomatic testing is only offered to individuals in certain situations, including:
    • When admitted to hospital for non-COVID-19 related care, or newly admitted to a Personal Care Home, in an effort to limit introduction in these settings.
    • In certain outbreak situations, to identify and isolate cases to minimize further spread.
    • When a close contact to a confirmed case is directed by a public health official.



What are the different kinds of test sites?

  • At testing centres, you will stand in a physically-distanced line to receive your test for walk-up services. If you have an appointment, you will enter the site at your appointment time.
  • At drive-thru sites, you will remain in your vehicle at all times, and you will be tested while in your vehicle.
  • At drive-up sites, you must make an appointment. You will remain in your vehicle until your appointment time, and then you will walk into a indoor staging area to get your test.
  • At mobile sites, you will stand in a physically-distanced line to receive your test; please note that mobile site locations may change depending on testing needs, though the locations on this page are always kept current.



Should a person who has recovered from COVID-19 be re-tested if they develop symptoms at a later date?

Yes, but the timing of tests needs to be carefully considered, as tests can detect evidence of the virus long after you have recovered from COVID-19. Based on our understanding of other human coronaviruses, you may be susceptible to reinfection around 3 months after your initial infection.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, 3 or more months after your first infection, you should isolate and go for testing.

If you develop symptoms less than 3 months after the first infection, a decision to re-test will depend on your exposure history, the severity of your symptoms, your pre-existing medical conditions and if you work with populations at higher risk of severe illness. Call Health Links - Info Santé at 204-788-8200 or (toll-free) at 1-888-315-9257 to determine if you should go for testing.




Should I get tested if I travelled within Canada?

Yes. Domestic travellers who are not exempt from quarantine in the orders should be tested for COVID-19 immediately upon arrival in Manitoba, regardless of if they are displaying symptoms, and whether they are visiting Manitoba or are returning from out of the province. They should make an appointment with a provincial testing site or visit a drive-thru test site, and indicate at the time of testing that they have been outside of Manitoba and share the location of travel.

They should also be tested again after 10 days, even if still asymptomatic, as long as they have not had a positive test within the last three months. Out of province travellers need to observe the full 14-day self-isolation (quarantine) period regardless of symptoms and test results. Re-testing is advised if an asymptomatic individual develops symptoms at any point, unless the individual had already recently tested positive.

Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and have had close contact to an out of province traveller should identify this contact to public health officials during the public health investigation and follow-up.

Testing as a result of domestic travel is not required for individuals who are exempt from quarantine in the provincial public health orders.




Should I get tested if I travelled internationally?

Yes. All international travellers must follow federal requirements. Re-testing is advised if an asymptomatic individual develops symptoms at any point, unless the individual had already tested positive. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and have had close contact to an international traveller should identify this contact to public health during the public health investigation and follow-up.




Should I get tested if I'm travelling to or returning to a First Nations or Indigenous and Northern Relations community?

Yes. Data has shown that First Nations people experience severe outcomes from COVID-19 at higher rates and at younger ages compared to other Manitobans. To lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission, First Nations health experts and public health officials have developed a number of targeted testing recommendations.

Non-essential travel to and from First Nations and Indigenous and Northern Relations communities continues to be discouraged. However, public health officials recognize that some essential travel continues to take place.

Effective Friday, March 19th, 2021, public health officials strongly recommend that COVID-19 testing occur before travel to First Nations and Indigenous and Northern Relations communities, and before someone returns to a community if a resident has been away for more than 48 hours.

Testing is not routinely recommended for individuals who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 AND two weeks have passed since their last dose*.

Individuals are considered fully vaccinated: 

  • two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer, Moderna, or Astra Zeneca vaccines, or
  • two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
  • two weeks after being immunized outside Canada with COVID-19 vaccines that are not approved in Canada, but are on the World Health Organizations’

(WHO) Emergency Use Listing (https://www.who.int/teams/regulation-prequalification/eul/covid-19).

Testing should not be done in individuals with a previous lab-confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis in the past three months.


Note: Individual First Nation communities may have further testing guidance in place that should be followed for all people traveling into those communities, including those who are fully immunized.

Individuals without symptoms of COVID-19, including those fully immunized, travelling to, or returning to, a First Nations or Indigenous and Northern Relations community can seek testing within three days of travel at no cost at the following locations. For hours and appointment information, visit the COVID-19 testing site.

  • Winnipeg:
    • Garry Centre - 330 Garry St.
    • Thunderbird House - 715 Main St
    • MPI Drive-Thru Testing site - 125 King Edward St
  • Thompson:
    • Thompson Clinic Testing Centre - Plaza Mall
  • The Pas:
    • The Pas Testing Centre - 328 Fischer Ave

While public health is only recommending testing at this time, individuals should be familiar with testing and self-isolation (quarantine) requirements that may be in place in their destination community.

Provided they have no symptoms, individuals seeking testing prior to travel, or return to, a First Nations or Indigenous and Northern Relations community do not need to self-isolate (quarantine) while waiting for their test result. However, they are encouraged to continue self-monitoring for symptoms, using the online screening tool, for 14 days after arriving in community.

Even if an individual receives a negative test result, they need to continue to follow all public health measures including limiting non-household close contacts, wearing masks in indoor public places, following physical distancing measures, and practicing frequent hand hygiene.

If individuals develop symptoms after receiving negative test results they need to immediately self-isolate and be re-tested.