Roche rapid test kits are now being distributed at the Takhini Arena. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Yukon makes at-home rapid tests available to people with symptoms

People who still qualify for a lab-based PCR test should not be using the rapid antigen tests

The Yukon is now distributing at-home rapid tests kits — but only for symptomatic individuals.

A test distribution centre was set up at the Takhini Arena on the morning of Jan. 10. Drive-thru pick-up will be available at the arena going forward, from Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Right now the tests are only available for people showing symptoms of COVID-19 who do not qualify for the routine PCR tests at the government’s COVID-19 testing centre. Generally speaking, that means only fully-vaccinated individuals with well-functioning immune systems will be able to access the at-home tests.

“The Government of Yukon is working with the Government of Canada to ensure rapid home test kits make it into the hands of as many Yukoners as possible. As a first step, we are pleased to provide them to people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 who are not able to get PCR tests at this time,” said Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee in a statement.

Yukoners determined to be more high-risk for COVID-19 complications, such as unvaccinated people or those with chronic conditions, should follow the usual routine to isolate and get a lab-confirmed PCR test. People living outside of Whitehorse can also continue to access the same lab testing.

Common COVID-19 symptoms include fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, headache, fatigue, nausea, diarrhea and muscle aches.

The government said that the availability of the tests will expand as the Yukon continues to receive more of them in the coming weeks.

The federal government said it would provide 100,000 tests to the Yukon. This week, the territory received 50,000 of the home test kits. The new shipment are Health Canada-approved Roche tests, which come with detailed instructions and can be used at home to see results in 15 minutes.

The shipment builds upon an existing supply of Abbott Panbio tests, which were not made available for the general public but used in rapid testing programs conducted by the government.

The current regime of at-home tests will give people some idea of confirmation of COVID-19, but a negative test is not an excuse to leave isolation. Regardless of the result of the test, anyone showing symptoms is expected to remain at home.

The at-home antigen tests are considered less reliable than the PCR test and can show false readings.

“I am pleased that the government will now offer rapid antigen home kits. It is important to do the right thing and stay home and away from others if you have COVID-19, even if your rapid antigen test is negative,” said acting chief medical officer Dr. Catherine Elliott in a statement.

“Please check for the latest information about symptoms and other information on COVID-19. As more people get boosted, we will be able to lift public health measures and have more contacts,” she continued.

The territory has seen 197 new active cases since Friday. The current case count as of Jan. 10 is sitting at 385 active cases.

Contact Haley Ritchie at