SHA to offer rapid COVID-19 testing training to businesses, workplaces

·2 min read
On Monday, daycares, physician offices, congregate workplaces and correctional facilities can apply to get antigen testing training. On May 10, it also opens up to businesses, municipalities and other government departments.  (Hugh Hastings/Getty Images - image credit)
On Monday, daycares, physician offices, congregate workplaces and correctional facilities can apply to get antigen testing training. On May 10, it also opens up to businesses, municipalities and other government departments. (Hugh Hastings/Getty Images - image credit)

Doctors shared details on the province's COVID-19 rapid testing strategy at a Saskatchewan Health Authority physician's town hall on Thursday.

The five-phase rapid antigen testing program began April 11, and is already being used by places like group homes, detox centres, pharmacies and schools throughout the province.

On Monday, daycares, physician offices, congregate workplaces and correctional facilities can apply to get antigen testing training. On May 10, it also opens up to businesses, municipalities and other government departments.

The SHA is currently offering training for PanBio and BD Veritor nasal swabs, which typically provide results in 15 minutes.

COVID-19 rapid tests can be less accurate than the lab-analyzed counterpart, so they are not intended for diagnosis, according to the province. They're for screening purposes only, and should only be used on people who do not have symptoms.

The SHA says these tests can help businesses with outbreak prevention, and help people know who needs further investigation and should stay home.

Eligible workplaces or organizations need to complete an intake application, complete online training provided by the health authority, train their testers, get the rapid testing supplies, test and report the results.

<cite>(Saskatchewan Health Authority)</cite>
(Saskatchewan Health Authority)

ICU capacity

Doctors also unpacked Regina's ICU statistics at the Thursday physician's town hall.

The province had 43 additional ICU beds in operation as of April 28. These numbers reflect the spread of variants of concern in Saskatchewan. Physicians say the B117 variant first detected in the U.K. is 50 per cent more infectious than the original COVID-19 virus. It's also 60 per cent more severe and is impacting a younger demographic.

For Regina patients, the average ICU length of stay has steadily increased to the current total of 14 days, nearly double what it was in January.

Between April 1 and April 26, 68 patients were admitted to Regina's ICUs. That is up from 57 patients in March, and only 31 in February.