COVID-19: Manitoba expands asymptomatic rapid testing program

Manitoba is expanding its asymptomatic rapid testing program, with a focus on specific industries outside of the healthcare field.

Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson said Monday that the program builds on the Fast Pass asymptomatic rapid testing that is already in place for teachers and others working in education, and will expand to other critical areas.

“We are partnering with Manitoba businesses and critical services to make the best use of our rapid test supply with the goal of identifying asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and other critical settings that would otherwise go undetected,” Stefanson said.

“This rapid test program will help us protect more Manitobans as we deal with a rise in COVID-19 cases.”

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The province has doled out a three-month supply of the rapid tests to organizations involved with the project, and is also helping with training and resources.

Read more: COVID-19: 183 new Manitoba cases Saturday, vaccine eligibility expands

The nasal swabs, which don’t go as deep as the swabs used for a typical COVID-19, can be administered by non-health-care professionals, so Red River College is offering virtual training on how to conduct the rapid tests.

Among the organizations in the initial rollout are the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Air Canada, Winkler Meats, the Alamos Gold mining operation in the northern part of the province, and Manitoba’s Wildfire Service.

“The opportunity for our employees to participate in this important, science-based, rapid screening initiative adds another tool in our multi-layered approach to employee safety,” said Air Canada’s chief medical officer, Dr. Jim Chung.

The province said there is potential for the program to expand, depending on its results, into other industries, like construction or transportation, and it may look to implement other delivery models at a later date.

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