Access to rapid COVID-19 tests opened up in Sask.
REGINA -- Rapid COVID-19 tests can now be used by businesses and individuals in Saskatchewan to screen for COVID-19.
The Government of Saskatchewan announced amendments to The Medical Laboratory Licensing Regulations, 1995, allowing residents to use rapid antigen tests without a formal agreement with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
While rapid antigen tests are not a diagnostic test, they can be used to screen asymptomatic people for COVID-19. Saskatchewan health officials recommend anyone that receives a positive test result from a rapid test should isolate and call 811 to schedule a PCR test.
The province anticipates around 30 per cent of businesses will show interest in employing rapid testing. So far, 181 businesses have shown interest, and 67 are already receiving supplies for the delivery of the tests.
“There’s a lot of fear around testing and we want to dispel some of the myths that this is a way to get your business shut down,” Carrie Dornstauder, acting Test to Protect chief for the SHA’s emergency command centre, said. “This is a way to find cases as early as possible, reduce the impact to your business and really keep your workforce strong.”
Workplaces have been the main source of outbreaks in the province during the third wave.
Since May 1, 50 per cent (57 of 113) of outbreaks listed on the Government’s website are listed were in workplaces.
Opposition Health Critic Vicki Mowat says making these tests more widely available is the right move, but it should have happened sooner.
"Government's been sitting on this stockpile of rapid tests since December," she said.
Mowat added the Government has all its focus on the vaccine rollout and needs to continue controlling the virus.
"Vaccines are one way of combating the virus, but we also at the same time need to be controlling spread," she said. "In order to do that, we have to use rapid testing, we need to make sure that our testing and contact tracing are up to speed, so that we can control the virus when it does present itself in community."
Large national businesses that operate in Saskatchewan can request rapid tests through the federal government’s website.
Small and medium enterprises within Saskatchewan can apply for tests through the SHA.
Tests will also be available for the general public from select retailers who offer them. The government recommends checking the Health Canada website to ensure the tests are approved for use.