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The program was previously extended this summer until Dec. 31.Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

Ontario is extending a program providing free rapid tests for COVID-19 to the end of June next year.

The program provides the rapid antigen tests through venues that include grocery stores and pharmacies.

It was previously extended this summer until Dec. 31.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones says the program will now be extended to June 30, 2023.

The move comes as a combination of RSV, the flu and COVID-19 have been putting immense strain on pediatric hospitals across Ontario.

Infectious disease experts have been urging everyone, but especially children aged five and under, to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and influenza ahead of the holiday season.