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'One test is quite sufficient,' Ont. doctor weighs in on rapid testing for low-risk settings

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The Easter long weekend is winding down after many families gathered to celebrate the holiday, with many opting to take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test before mingling.

Dr. Sohail Gandhi said although the tests are not as effective as PCR testing, they are a useful way to gauge if someone is COVID positive.

"There's been a lot of talk about whether one test is sufficient or not. I think for most gatherings, one test is quite sufficient," said Dr. Gandhi.

The Stayner physician said tests could be used in low-risk settings, but it is reasonable to test more than once before entering a high-risk setting, such as long-term care homes.

"You might want to let the rapid antigen have a little more time to work. Wait for 15 minutes and not two minutes as it was initially suggested to see what the result is like," he noted via Skype.

For those who don't have rapid antigen tests, Dr. Gandhi advised staying home when not feeling well to monitor symptoms.

Last week, a COVID-19 testing device that identifies chemical components in breath samples received emergency use permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to the FDA, the breathalyzer test takes less than three minutes for results and can be administered by a certified, trained operator under the supervision of a health-care physician who is licenced or permitted by state law to prescribe tests.

Dr. Gandhi said the new technology sounded promising, and the data provided appeared to be effective in identifying COVID-19.

However, he said before it arrives in Canada, he would like to see additional domestic testing.

"It really needs to go through a proper vetting process through Health Canada before we can use it in a more widespread manner." Something Dr. Gandhi estimated could take between six to five months.

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