New Brunswick is offering COVID-19 rapid tests to virtually anyone who wants them.
Public health set up 20 distribution centres around the province with kits available beginning on Monday. The centres are expected to operate throughout the week in many locations.
Anyone who is not a positive COVID-19 case is eligible to receive them, according to public health.
A distribution centre in Saint John opened about 30 minutes early as a lineup of vehicles extended onto the street. Traffic was steady throughout the day.
Nicholas Comeau was among a number of walk-ins who claimed test kits.
“I just think that it’s a great way to keep the community safe,” Comeau said. “Just to be able to know if we have COVID without being symptomatic.”
Julie Estabrooks grabbed some kits for her family.
“Our family’s dealt with some exposures and that type of thing so I think for a lot of it, it’s peace of mind,” Estabrooks said. “Just so that we can test ourselves on a regular basis and feel comfortable with that. Everyone in our family is vaccinated except my daughter, who is under the age of 12. So, I think for her benefit, we’d also like to have access to these rapid tests if need be.”
Comeau and Estabrooks both said the expanded rapid test program is “long overdue.” The province has been using rapid tests in long-term care facilities and rolled out a program for schools with COVID-19 cases earlier in October.
- ‘Forever chemicals’ found in Canadian fast food packaging, study shows
- Syphilis cases in babies on the rise in Canada. Doctors point to health-care ‘failures’
- Canada hopes to boost regulation on natural health products. Here’s why
- Paid pregnancy loss leave included in Budget 2023. But who can get it?
Rapid tests were offered on Saturday to people living in New Brunswick’s circuit-breaker zones. Tighter restrictions went into effect Oct. 8 in parts of five different health zones with high rates of infection.
Read more: Canada must be 'practical' on school rapid testing amid U.S. supply crunch, advocates say
The province said 37,500 tests — 7,500 five-test kits for use over a 10-day period — were given out, and all three distribution centres had to close early because they ran out of kits.
Public health said it doubled the number of kits it had allocated for each distribution centre as part of the provincewide rollout, and is prepared to deliver more depending on demand.
Global News requested comments on the expanded rollout from public health and the New Brunswick Department of Health, but interviews could not be arranged.