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Drive-thru coronavirus testing being rolled out in Saskatchewan

Drive-thru coronavirus testing being rolled out in Saskatchewan
WATCH: With kids going back to class across Saskatchewan next week, the province has announced its plans to expand testing. Roberta Bell brings us details on drive-thru sites and a voluntary in-school option.

The provincial government announced on Friday that drive-thru testing for the novel coronavirus is coming to Saskatchewan’s two largest cities next week.

Drive-thru testing sites will be open Sept. 8 in Regina and Sept. 10 in Saskatoon, according to a press release.

Read more: Continue preparations for Oct. 26 election: Saskatchewan’s chief electoral officer

“Collectively, Regina and Saskatoon account for approximately half of our provincial testing each day and drive-thru testing sites are one of the ways the (Saskatchewan Health Authority) is expanding the options for people to get tested for COVID-19,” Health Minister Jim Reiter said at a press conference.

“This format will certainly be more convenient for more residents, but please note that there will still be a patient registration process and specimen collection and cleaning protocols that need to be followed. It’s first-come, first-serve. So there may be some wait times.

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“SHA staff will be working hard to make the testing process as easy as possible, but they still must ensure accuracy and safety for all. You will need to bring a valid Saskatchewan health card and a mask for everyone in the car being tested. To respect patient privacy and safety, we ask families only bring people within their immediate family or family bubble.”

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The drive-thru service in Regina will take place at the International Trade Centre at Evraz Place in hall C at 1700 Elphinstone St. from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Testing in Saskatoon will be at 3630 Thatcher Ave. and take place Tuesday through Thursday from noon to 7:15 p.m., as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read more: Possible coronavirus exposure at several businesses in south Saskatchewan

Government officials said people do not require a referral to access the drive-thru locations; however, a valid Saskatchewan Health Card will be required for each person getting tested. They added a Canadian Armed Forces number or interim federal health identification will also be accepted.

All vehicle occupants being tested are required to wear a mask during the registration process, according to the press release.

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In the province, COVID-19 testing is universally available to anyone who requests it, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.

“Referrals for (non-drive-thru) testing at our other testing and assessment centres can still be obtained by phoning HealthLine 811 or through your family physician or nurse practitioner,” Reiter said.

According to the press release, 1,221 COVID-19 tests were performed in Saskatchewan on Thursday. To date, over 144,670 tests have been carried out in the province.

Here’s what Saskatoon schools will look like when they open Sept. 8
Here’s what Saskatoon schools will look like when they open Sept. 8

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

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To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.