WestJet launches rapid COVID-19 testing pilot at YVR Airport

Nov 27 2020, 6:18 pm

A rapid COVID-19 testing pilot launched at Vancouver International Airport on Friday morning.

The initiative, dubbed the WestJet-YVR COVID-19 Testing Study, is a collaboration between UBC researchers and Providence Health Care. Sponsored by WestJet and Vancouver Airport Authority, the study is investigating a form of rapid coronavirus testing with the goal of finding safe, efficient methods to use at the YVR Airport.

The pilot is located at WestJet’s domestic check-in area and will operate between Monday and Friday during peak morning hours. Testing consists of three steps — registration and informed consent, testing, and results. It’s also worth noting that the study is the first of its kind in Canada.

Participation is open to WestJet guests who are BC residents, between the ages of 19 and 80, and who have not tested positive for the virus within the past 90 days. Additionally, only domestic flyers are eligible and testing will only be available on the day of travel.

Researchers from UBC and Providence will collect samples in a ready-made testing station. The Vancouver Airport Authority notes, however, that “a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19.”

If a person tests positive through the rapid test, they’ll be required to undergo Health Canada-approved testing and will have their flights rebooked or cancelled at no charge. Participants who test negative will continue travelling as normal.

Once the pilot is complete, researchers will submit their results for publication. The results will also be shared with public health officials to contribute to future testing frameworks in airports.

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