The Saskatchewan government says COVID-19 rapid testing is expanding in the province for asymptomatic individuals.
Officials said a strategy has been developed to deploy more than 700,000 rapid point-of-care tests to be used in a number of settings, including walk-in or drive-thru sites.
The tests will also be offered in long-term and personal care homes, shelters, detox facilities, group homes and schools.
Individuals testing positive will be retested with a PCR test to confirm the result.
Retesting for negative results is not required, which health officials said should reduce pressure on provincial lab resources.
The Ministry of Health said it is developing a tender for third parties to deliver testing, which officials said will increase the number of places where testing can be offered.
Saskatchewan Health Authority officials said they are also looking at pop-up point-of-care testing sites and the ability for health-care workers to carry out weekly surveillance testing on themselves.
Health Minister Paul Merriman said regulations have been amended to exempt point-of-care COVID-19 specimen collection and testing sites from requiring a laboratory licence when those sites have entered into an agreement with the SHA.
“These changes give us the ability to move swiftly to expand testing options,” Merriman said Thursday in a statement.
“We know that testing plays a crucial role in helping to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus and now with variants of concern surfacing in our province it is more important than ever that testing is expanded to make it easier, quicker and more convenient to access.”
A rollout date for rapid testing to start was not announced, leaving Saskatchewan NDP health critic Vicki Mowat to question why.
“It is promising to see a plan in the works to deploy rapid testing in Saskatchewan, but the government’s announcement was really light on details. There was no information on when this tool will actually be used in the fight against COVID-19,” Mowat said in a statement.
“The news today is better than nothing, but how is it that we have had access to these tests for months and they haven’t even finished developing a tender for delivery?”
The rapid point-of-care tests were received by Saskatchewan through a federal government allocation.