The Manitoba government has launched a rapid testing screening program to support businesses and critical service providers by helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 through early detection.
“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,” said Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson. “This rapid test program will help us protect more Manitobans as we deal with a rise in COVID-19 cases.”
This program builds on the current Fast Pass asymptomatic rapid testing in place for teachers and education workers. Rapid testing using an antigen-based test is already in place for asymptomatic staff at select personal care homes in Manitoba.
The expanded strategy will focus primarily on providing antigen-based rapid tests to targeted industries and critical service providers in non-health-care settings. It focuses on organizations that can self-administer a sustainable asymptomatic screening program and whose specific setting may benefit from routine testing because of their geographical location, potential supply chain, community or population impacts, transportation or living arrangements, or who have a workforce that have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19. Partner organizations will be responsible for administering the tests and tracking, and reporting test results to the province.
The province has distributed a three-month supply of rapid tests to participating organizations and is providing training and other resources to support launch of the program. The majority of sites will use nasal swabs, which can be administered by non-health-care professionals, as they do not go as far into the nasal cavity as the nasopharyngeal swab that is used for a typical COVID-19 test. Red River College will support the pilot by offering participants a two-hour virtual training module on nasal swabbing and how to conduct a rapid test.
The initial rollout includes a number of organizations from a cross-segment of Manitoba sectors including the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, Manitoba’s Wildfire Service, a mid-size Manitoba-based agri-foods business (Winkler Meats), a mining operation in northern Manitoba (Alamos Gold Inc.), and a major airline (Air Canada).
Depending upon uptake and results, the program may expand to other industries such as construction or transportation or look to implement other delivery models, such as pop-up screening clinics at a later date. Manitoba also launched a second Fast Pass site in Winkler on April 12 that expands access to rapid testing for school-based and child-care staff.
“As we continue to immunize and protect more Manitobans, this rapid testing program can help screen even those who have been immunized to provide assurances to workforces and their employees,” said Stefanson.
Winkler Meats is a meat producer based out of Winkler and distributes products to Western Canada and Ontario. The site will begin offering workers the Abbott PanBio antigen rapid test beginning April 12. Tests will be administered by trained staff who have taken the new Red River College virtual training program for the anterior nasal swab.Click here to see more...