Note from Michael April 24 2023 | Changes to COVID-19 testing

From the desk of Dr. Michael Gardam, Health PEI CEO


Notes from MichaelHi everybody,

I wanted to talk to you all about something before we send a news release and make it public. This week we’re going to be shutting down the COVID-19 testing clinics across the province.  

This move has been a long time coming. Rapid antigen testing kits are now everywhere. With that widespread availability has come a steady decline in people showing up to our testing clinics. For a couple of months now we have been testing less than 100 people per week across the province. The clinics in Montague and O’Leary test less than 5 people each per day. 

Shutting down these sites just makes sense at this point, but we need to be careful in how we communicate this to the public. COVID-19 is not gone. We’re just dealing with it in a different way. 

First, the nuts and bolts: the clinic schedule for Slemon Park and Charlottetown will continue as normal this week. The last day for both clinics will be Friday, April 28. Due to staffing challenges, we will not be opening the clinics in Montague and O’Leary this week.  

What does this mean? It means rapid antigen tests are the new standard. You can pick them up at community pharmacies, Access PEI sites, all Public Library branches, Provincial Visitor Information and Destination Centers, and within the public-school system. The CPHO is encouraging Islanders to keep a stock of tests at home (and I encourage you to do the same!). If a test is negative, we’re telling people to monitor symptoms and test again in 48hours. Even with a negative test, we’re encouraging people to stay home if they’re sick to prevent exposing anyone else. 

Those with a negative result who feel their symptoms require medical attention should consult their primary health care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner), walk-in clinic, or Maple (virtual care program). You can still get tested for COVID-19 (and influenza, and RSV…) if you meet the testing criteria and your health care provider feels it is warranted. 

Once testing positive on a rapid antigen test, a confirmatory test is not required. Eligible Islanders are encouraged to call their local pharmacy or speak to their health care provider (family physician or nurse practitioner)  if they wish to be considered for Paxlovid. Those without a primary health care provider or cannot reach them can call 8-1-1 to be screened and placed on the Paxlovid referral program.  

Paxlovid is available for individuals age 50 and older regardless of vaccination status, or anyone age 18 and older who is immunocompromised or has underlying health conditions. Paxlovid is most effective in the early stages of illness and must be administered within five days of the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. 

If testing is ordered by a HCP COVID results can still be accessed on the COVID-19 test results portal, by calling their health care provider or contacting their local Medical Records department

Closing these clinics means a good deal of the public-facing infrastructure set up to fight the pandemic will be gone. Not everyone will be comfortable with this, and I can understand why. We spent the better part of three years making sure regular testing was a part of people’s lives. Shutting down these clinics signals a big change in our approach to COVID-19. 

We need to make sure people know we still take COVID-19 seriously. The clinics may be gone, but testing is just as important as it ever was. People need to know where to find tests and where to go for help. 

These clinics, and the people who worked in them, saved lives. I salute each and every one of you. 

We’re not done yet, folks. But this is a big step.  



Please send questions, comments, or submissions for these notes to, subject line “Notes for Michael”.