New coronavirus test could be used to detect the virus

Omicron variant of COVID-19 confirmed in Halton and Durham regions cases

OTTAWA — A new test may offer a way to detect the coronavirus and determine who will get worse, but may also raise new challenges, experts say.

The Ontario-based laboratory has developed a new test for coronavirus that could be used by health-care professionals and in the investigation of suspicious cases.

It is not yet available to the public, but the lab was able to replicate in a separate laboratory system that the team developed a method for collecting the virus in samples. The tests may be used for some patients that don’t have a fever or any respiratory symptoms at all.

The test is being tested in other jurisdictions, Ontario’s chief public health officer said Tuesday.

In a message from the lab, Dr. David Shepherd said it’s possible that the test could be used to help determine if someone is infected with the coronavirus by getting a blood or respiratory sample from family or friends who may have had close contact with that person.

“Those samples have a good chance of testing positive, and they would certainly be of interest to public health authorities as we would look to see if a person is displaying symptoms of the coronavirus,” he said.

Shepherd said the lab recently began using the new test for more than 100 people it is preparing to test for COVID-19 in Toronto, New York City and elsewhere.

The new test involves collecting the virus in small blood or saliva samples from people who might have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus.

The lab is working with researchers from the University of Ottawa to develop a way to get the virus from the small blood or saliva samples to a more robust and sensitive way to detect the virus, said Dr. Richard Webby, who is the co-founder of the laboratory.


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