COVID-19 test kits expected at Ontario pharmacies as soon as 'this week'

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Some pharmacies in Canada’s Ontario province may receive COVID-19 test kits as soon as this week under a government plan to expand testing and reduce wait times, a pharmacy association executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

Allan Malek, chief pharmacy officer at the Ontario Pharmacists Association, said test kits are expected to be delivered “either the end of this week or ... within the coming days.”

But he said the provincial government has not given an official start date for testing at pharmacies. Only certain pharmacies will participate initially, and the tests will be administered by pharmacists.

Shoppers Drug Mart, owned by Loblaw Cos, Rexall, Walmart Canada, and smaller independent pharmacies are expected to take part. At present, COVID-19 tests in Canada are only administered at public health clinics.

Ontario’s health ministry declined to comment specifically on the timeline.

Additional reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Cynthia Osterman