Government sending over 700,000 COVID-19 rapid test kits across Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government is expanding rapid COVID-19 testing options for asymptomatic residents.

More than 700,000 rapid point-of-care tests allocated by the federal government will be deployed in a variety of settings across the province including walk-in or drive-thru sites, mobile testing and pop-up testing sites. These tests will also be offered to long-term and personal care homes, shelters, detox facilities, group homes and schools.

Tests will also be available for ambulance, fire and police and participating pharmacies and dental offices.

“Many of these sectors may not have the capacity to use these tests on their own, so the Ministry of Health is working with SaskBuilds and Procurement to develop a Request for Pre-Qualifications (RFPQ) tender for third-party providers to deliver testing to these locations,” explained the government in a news release. “This will enhance the number and variety of venues where rapid testing is offered.”

The government adds that the Saskatchewan Health Authority is looking at pop-up point of care testing sites and the ability for health care workers to carry out weekly surveillance testing on themselves. The ministry and SHA will work with multiple sectors and groups to ensure training and support is in place to use testing resources to their full potential.

The Medical Laboratory Licensing Regulations have been amended to exempt point of care COVID-19 specimen collection and testing sites from requiring a laboratory license when those sites have entered into an agreement with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“These changes give us the ability to move swiftly to expand testing options,” said Health Minister Paul Merriman. “We know that testing plays a crucial role in helping to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and now with variants of concern surfacing in our province it is more important than ever that testing is expanded to make it easier, quicker and more convenient to access.”

Any rapid point-of-care tests that return a positive result will need to be retested to confirm the result using a PCR test by SHA labs. Negative tests won’t need to be retested for confirmation, which the government hopes will reduce pressure on provincial lab resources.

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