Saskatchewan to expand use of COVID rapid testing kits

The Government of Saskatchewan is expanding rapid COVID-19 testing options for asymptomatic individuals in a variety of settings across the province.

Saskatchewan has created a strategy to deploy more than 700,000 rapid point-of-care tests received through a federal government allocation. These safe and simple tests will be used in a variety of settings including walk-in or drive-through sites, mobile testing and pop-up testing sites.

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Along with appropriate training, rapid tests will be offered to Long-term and Personal Care homes, shelters, detox facilities, group homes and schools. Many of these sectors may not have the capacity to use these tests on their own, so the Ministry of Health is working with SaskBuilds and Procurement to develop a Request for Pre-Qualifications (RFPQ) tender for third-party providers to deliver testing to these locations. This will enhance the number and variety of venues where rapid testing is offered.

Tests will also be available for ambulance, fire and police and participating pharmacies and dental offices.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority is also looking at pop-up point of care testing sites and the ability for health care workers to carry out weekly surveillance testing on themselves. The Ministry of Health and Saskatchewan Health Authority will work with various sectors and provider groups to ensure training and support is in place to use these testing resources to their full potential.

The Medical Laboratory Licensing Regulations have been amended to exempt point of care COVID-19 specimen collection and testing sites from requiring a laboratory license when those sites have entered into an agreement with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

“These changes give us the ability to move swiftly to expand testing options,” Health Minister Paul Merriman said. “We know that testing plays a crucial role in helping to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and now with variants of concern surfacing in our province it is more important than ever that testing is expanded to make it easier, quicker and more convenient to access.”

Any rapid point-of-care tests that return a positive result will need to be retested to confirm the result using a PCR test with the Saskatchewan Health Authority labs. However, negative tests do not need to be retested for confirmation, which is expected to reduce pressure on provincial lab resources.