If you still haven’t been able to get your hands on those free rapid COVID-19 tests being handed out at pharmacies, this week may be your chance.

Quebec is sending millions of antigen tests all over the province starting Tuesday.

Over 200 boxes containing five rapid tests each arrived at Emilie Antoun’s Familiprix location in the Plateau-Mont-Royal on Monday. They’re just a fraction of the 3 million tests being rolled out to Quebec pharmacies this week.

“I’d be surprised if we had any at the end of the day,” Antoun told Global News.

The federal government is sending 30 million antigen tests to Quebec this month, with many going to elementary schools and daycares. Anyone over 14 is eligible to grab a box of five from a pharmacy every 30 days.

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“I was expecting there would be a line today but I just passed by and there was nobody. I am very grateful,” said Julieanne Risler, a mother who had picked up rapid tests for her 15- and 17-year-old sons.

During Quebec’s first mass distribution of free antigen tests before Christmas, there were huge lineups,  including at Antoun’s pharmacy.

But when it opened at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, to Antoun’s surprise, no one was waiting.

“I think a lot of the people who were really anxious to get a box have gotten one, so now it’s people who are like, ‘Oh, ok, you know what? Let me go see if they have,’” she said.

“It’s a little bit less manic than it was in the beginning.”

Antoun said the fact that the government had rolled out the tests just days before Christmas added to stress in the population and the intensity of demand during the first round. She wished the government had sent the tests to pharmacies weeks before they did.

Benoit Morin of the Association Québécoise des Pharmaciens Propriétaires said he had not heard of big lines at any pharmacies on Tuesday, but that demand for tests remains high.

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He said many pharmacies did not advertise the fact that they had received a new shipment of rapid tests because they are still honouring previously-made reservations and waiting lists.

“I think the demand is still strong because there is no way you can get a PCR test right now and COVID is very strong,” he said.

Morin says online reservations either on Clic Sante or pharmacy websites likely won’t be functional until later this week.

“The tests go away very rapidly if you have 300 people on your waiting list, so you don’t have boxes for Clic Sante or your website,” Morin explained.

With three million tests arriving in Quebec pharmacies every week of January, Morin believes they’ll be easier and easier to find.

“Next week, I think that everything will be much smoother,” he said.





© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.





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