Saskatchewan opens up access to rapid antigen tests

Rapid antigen tests may now be used by Saskatchewan businesses and individuals to help screen people who do not show COVID-19 symptoms.

The province has amended The Medical Laboratory Licensing Regulations, 1995 so that a formal agreement is no longer required between those who use rapid antigen tests and the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA).

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"Our government is committed to improving access to health care services for people across the province, and providing the necessary tools to address the pandemic," Health Minister Paul Merriman said. "This step means that businesses and individuals can easily procure and use these tests, helping asymptomatic people who have COVID-19 receive testing and treatment more quickly. Ultimately, the best way to protect yourself and those around you is to get vaccinated."

Rapid antigen tests are not a diagnostic test, but are used to screen asymptomatic people for COVID-19. Health officials strongly recommend that people who receive a positive test result immediately self-isolate and call 811 for further instructions, such as scheduling a confirmatory test through a SHA testing centre.

"The Saskatchewan Health Authority's Test to Protect program is an important element of a multi-layered approach that we have added to our pandemic response along with vaccination," SHA Testing Chief Carrie Dornstauder, said. "The Test to Protect community rapid antigen testing program provides workplaces with early detection of COVID-19 ensuring a strong and healthy workplace and workforce through outbreak prevention."

Large national businesses that operate in Saskatchewan and wish to use the tests can request them through the federal government's online business portal at https://health.canada.ca/en/rapid-tests.

Small and medium-sized enterprises within Saskatchewan can apply for rapid tests from the SHA by submitting an Intake Form available at www.Saskatchewan.ca/COVID19 (search for Rapid Testing). Tests will be provided for workplace screening as supplies allow, however Saskatchewan's federal allocation of rapid antigen tests will be prioritized for health care professionals and priority settings such as long-term care facilities, personal care homes, schools, group homes and shelters.

The general public will be able to purchase the tests from retailers who wish to offer them. Check first to ensure the tests are Health Canada approved by viewing the list at https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry/medical-devices/authorized/list.html.

General information on rapid antigen testing is available at https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/health-care-administration-and-provider-resources/treatment-procedures-and-guidelines/emerging-public-health-issues/2019-novel-coronavirus/testing-information/rapid-testing.

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