While the distribution of free rapid tests for COVID-19 was to end on March 31, Quebec announces that it is extending the program for a year. However, the tests offered in pharmacies will now be reserved for certain clienteles.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) announced in a press release Monday morning that the “COVID-19 Rapid Test Distribution Program” has been extended until March 31, 2024.

Thus, self-test boxes will still be offered “in the 1,900 community pharmacies” in Quebec, but only people deemed “at high risk of complications” as well as people who benefit from free medication under the public plan will be able to obtain them. .

Those considered to be at risk are adults with immunosuppression; people aged 60 and over; pregnant women ; and adults living with a chronic disease.

In the case of people who benefit from free medication, we are talking about last-resort financial assistance recipients, low-income people aged 65 and over, children and full-time students under 25.

The MSSS explains this restriction by “the favorable evolution of the situation over the past few months”, can we read in the press release. This new rule is due to come into effect on May 15.

In addition, the free distribution of self-tests will continue in schools and CPEs. In addition, the general population will be able to continue to obtain rapid test units from vaccination centers and COVID-19 screening centres.

In an email exchange with The Canadian Press, the MSSS indicated that it was seeking to refine its strategy in order to sell its reserves of “63 million rapid tests in its warehouses”.

A number to which are potentially added many other units in reserve in the various health establishments in Quebec.

According to ministry data, more than 131 million rapid tests have been distributed, including 42 million in pharmacies.