MONTREAL -- As demand for COVID-19 testing soars, Quebec public health announced new screening priorities Tuesday for PCR tests. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms who falls outside of the groups listed below must take a rapid-test instead — and if there’s no rapid tests available, said individuals will be considered COVID-positive and must follow the appropriate isolation guidelines.

PCR tests performed in screening clinics are now reserved for symptomatic individuals belonging to the following groups:

  • People who are hospitalized
  • Emergency room patients
  • Health care workers in contact with patients
  • Staff, residents, essential care providers and visitors in hospitals and group lodging facilities
  • Ambulatory patients for whom COVID-19 treatment is being considered
  • Homeless people or those in precarious residential situations

PCR tests will also be reserved for:

  • People who live in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities or travel there for work
  • People transferred to or from a hospital or group home
  • Symptomatic OR asymptomatic people in settings where confirmed or suspected outbreaks have occurred
  • Asymptomatic people in hospitals, long-term care facilities and group lodging settings

On Tuesday the province also lowered the isolation guidelines from 10 to five days for most people, namely those with COVID-19-like symptoms, those exposed to the virus through a positive person in their household, those who are double vaccinated, and children under 12. For others, the isolation period remains at 10 days. 

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms including fever, cough or sore throat, and a loss of taste or smell, should isolate.

Those who are adequately vaccinated can stop isolating after five days if their symptoms improve and after at least 24 hours without a fever.

Those who are not adequately vaccinated must isolate for 10 days.

More details here.

Quebecers are instructed to follow isolation measures iof they receive a positive results on a rapid test. If they receive a negative results, they should isolate and take a second rapid teat 24 hours later.

If the second result is negative and symptoms diminish, Quebec Public Health states you can return to normal activities, but wear a mask and be sure to keep distancing.

If the second result is negative and symptoms persist or worsen, stay isolated and consult a health-care professional if needed.