Manitoba launches asymptomatic rapid testing pilot to catch COVID-19 cases early
A medical worker holds a rapid COVID-19 test showing a positive result, at a testing site set up by the city department of health outside the Pino Suarez subway station, in central Mexico City, Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (AP / Rebecca Blackwell)
WINNIPEG -- The Province of Manitoba has announced it has launched an asymptomatic COVID-19 rapid testing pilot project in some non-healthcare industries.
In a news release on Monday, Manitoba's Health Minister Heather Stefanson said the province has handed out a three-month supply of rapid tests to some businesses and critical services to find COVID-19 cases that may go undetected.
"This rapid test program will help us protect more Manitobans as we deal with a rise in COVID-19 cases," Stefanson said.
The province said these antigen-based tests will be delivered to organizations that will be responsible for administering the tests, and tracking and reporting the results to the province. Most of the sites included in the pilot project will use nasal swabs that do not go as far up the nasal cavity and will be administered by non-healthcare professionals.
Red River College (RRC) will be offering those in the pilot project a two-hour virtual training program on nasal swabbing and conducting the tests.
Here is who will be involved in the pilot project:
Manitoba Wildfire Service staff
The province said program staff who have taken the RRC training program will be providing the Abbott PanBio rapid antigen for regular screening of Manitoba Wildfire Service staff.
"Because wildfires can occur in remote locations throughout the province, staff move quickly throughout communities to provide immediate support and work out of a number of bases in remote communities," the province said in a release.
Intake for Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) began providing the BD Veritor antigen rapid test at its residential drug or alcohol treatment sites in Winnipeg on April 6. The tests are being used as a part of the AFM's client-intake processes, and are being administered by nurses working on site.
Alamos Gold Lynn Lake Mining Operation
Starting on April 6, a hired nurse at the Alamos Gold Lynn Lake Mining Operation in northern Manitoba began to offer the BD Veritor antigen rapid test to workers. The project includes two primary sites east of Lynn Lake, a town located about 233 kilometres northwest of Thompson.
Winkler Meats workforce
Winkler Meats, a meat producer which distributes products to Western Canada and Ontario, started giving the Abbott PanBio antigen rapid test to workers on April 12. The tests are administered by staff who have been trained in the RRC program.
Air Canada workforce
Starting at the end of April, Air Canada will start offering the BD Veritor antigen rapid test to staff using a self-administered nasal swab. The province said this is consistent with the other rapid testing programs Air Canada has in other areas.
The province said depending on the uptake and results of the program, it may be expanded in the future to include construction or transportation industries. The province said it may also look into setting up other options, including a pop-up screening clinic in the future.