Alberta plans to hand out another 2M free COVID-19 rapid test kits

·2 min read
The Alberta government plans to distribute another two million rapid tests to help screen for COVID-19. (CBC - image credit)
The Alberta government plans to distribute another two million rapid tests to help screen for COVID-19. (CBC - image credit)

Another two million free rapid testing kits are now being offered to public, private and not-for-profit employers and service providers, the Alberta government said Tuesday in a news release.

The announcement follows the earlier rollout of more than 1.2 million kits to long-term care facilities, schools, outbreak sites, hospitals, homeless shelters and industries across the province.

Any employer or service provider can apply for the free test kits, the news release said.

"Rapid testing kits have been used successfully in long-term care, shelters, and large worksites to keep Albertans safe," Health Minister Tyler Shandro said in a statement.

"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."

To be eligible, employers and service providers must submit a screening program plan that outlines:

  • protocols for administering the tests.

  • the use of personal protective equipment.

  • processes for reporting results and managing people who test positive.

A health-care provider is required to oversee the screening program but the tests can be administered by anyone who is properly trained, and under certain conditions people can test themselves, the release said.

Priority will be given to businesses and organizations that deal 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 news release said.

Rapid tests can help identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases so those people can be isolated early. Those with symptoms should continue to be tested by scheduling an appointment through Alberta Health Service online tool.

Organizations are responsible for all costs related to their screening programs and assume all medical and legal responsibilities.

Rapid test kits already been given out have gone to:

  • long-term care and designated supportive living facilities (523,000 kits).

  • companies in critical industries such as oil and gas, transportation, meatpacking and utilities (443,000 kits).

  • a pilot project at two Calgary schools (100,000 kits).

  • 40 COVID-19 assessment centres.

  • 47 hospital-based labs.

  • Eight homeless shelters.