Manitoba piloting rapid COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers

Public health officials in Manitoba are piloting a project to help reassure health care workers that they are safe when coming to work.

Lanette Siragusa, the chief nursing officer with Shared Health, revealed on Wednesday that public health is piloting a rapid COVID-19 testing pattern for healthcare workers.

“As of last week at the Health Sciences Centre, 150 symptomatic health care workers were tested,” Siragusa said, noting 146 of the workers tested negative for COVID-19, and were cleared to work.

Four of the staff members tested positive, and are now self-isolating.

The goal of the pilot project is to see if hospitals will be able to identify positive tests among staff earlier and help potentially reduce the spread of COVID-19 in health care facilities.

Siragusa said the rapid testing is also not a substitute for wearing approved personal protective equipment while working.

She added rapid testing could become important in the coming months.

“(Rapid testing) could prove to be an important tool as we approach the respiratory virus season, when many health care workers may have one or more influenza-like illness symptoms, but do not have COVID-19,” Siragusa said.

The pilot project is currently being assessed by public health, and Siragusa said they will announce more on it in the coming days.

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