Alberta announces massive COVID-19 rapid testing expansion

Mar 23 2021, 5:10 pm

Alberta announced on Tuesday that it will be expanding rapid testing for COVID-19 throughout the province.

Following the successful rollout of over 1.2 million rapid tests to long-term care facilities, homeless shelters, schools, hospitals, and other industries, the Alberta government will be distributing an additional two million tests.

Tests will be available for businesses and sectors in Alberta to help identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases so that they can be isolated early.

“Rapid testing kits have been used successfully in long-term care, shelters, and large worksites to keep Albertans safe,” says Health Minister Tyler Shandro. “This expansion of our rapid testing program supports our overall COVID-19 strategy, to shield those most at risk, to protect lives and livelihoods, and adapt our actions to new evidence as it comes.”

“I am pleased that we are able to give businesses and service providers another tool for screening cases early and breaking the chain of transmission.”

Anyone is welcome to apply; however, Alberta’s government will be prioritizing certain businesses and organizations. This includes those involved with vulnerable populations, high-risk settings and workplaces, first responders, essential services and critical industry, and sectors that support the reopening of economic and social activities.

The government says that to be eligible for rapid testing kits, employers and service providers must submit a screening program plan.

The plan needs to outline protocols for administering the tests, the use of personal protective equipment, and processes for reporting results and managing individuals who screen positive.

The tests can be administered by a trained layperson, and self-administration is permissible under certain conditions, but a healthcare provider is required to oversee an organization’s screening program.

Alberta has received approximately 2.6 million rapid tests since October 2020, with an additional one million expected before the end of April.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, will be providing a live update about COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon.

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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