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Saskatchewan rural municipalities optimistic about COVID-19 testing expansion

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan rural municipalities optimistic about COVID-19 testing expansion' Saskatchewan rural municipalities optimistic about COVID-19 testing expansion
WATCH: Health Canada approved a new testing kit this week as the province hopes to increase the amount of tests health care workers can complete every day – Apr 14, 2020

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) said the development of rapid COVID-19 testing is a step forward for those living outside of urban centres.

Health Canada approved a new testing kit this week as the province hopes to increase the amount of tests health-care workers can complete every day.

READ MORE: Canadian company says Health Canada has approved its rapid COVID-19 test

SARM’s president said access to testing is top of mind for rural communities.

“It’s nice to have in your own community or if you have to travel, you don’t have to travel too far out — hopefully a matter of minutes to get to a community where you could get tested if need be,” Ray Orb told Global News.

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An Ottawa-based company has designed a portable kit that can produce results in less than an hour.

Click to play video: 'Health Canada approves rapid test kits for COVID-19' Health Canada approves rapid test kits for COVID-19
Health Canada approves rapid test kits for COVID-19 – Apr 13, 2020

The province has placed an order with Spartan Bioscience for the new test, which would also increase the province’s testing capacity.

“We need to address where some of the opportunities for this disease to spread — where those are and concentrate our testing, not only into the areas we have this far but also into those areas where there may be some opportunities for spread,” premier Scott Moe said during his April 13 press conference.

He said the order would be increased, but given the demand for rapid testing, he doesn’t expect a delivery for a few weeks.

READ MORE: Manitoba has new rapid COVID-19 test in hand, will start validating them Tuesday

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Last week the health authority responsible for northern First Nations called on the federal and provincial governments to fill a surge request which included swab kits.

Global News reached out to the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), but didn’t receive a comment before our deadline.

READ MORE: New Canadian-made portable, rapid COVID-19 tests not coming to B.C.

Orb added he understands the delays given the high demand for items like personal protective equipment, testing kits and respirators and hopes people are doing their part to stop the spread.

“This is going to take some time. I think in the meantime we still need to follow the proper protocols — in the case of Saskatchewan, the chief medical [health] officer,” he said. 

“We need to listen to him and the premier as well to keep track of the daily updates.”

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