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Finding rapid COVID-19 tests in Sask. is hassle-free. The same can’t be said for the rest of Canada

Click to play video: 'Finding rapid COVID-19 tests in Sask. is hassle-free' Finding rapid COVID-19 tests in Sask. is hassle-free
WATCH: In October, the Saskatchewan government said asymptomatic people would no longer be tested at its sites. At the same time, the province started a successful distribution of rapid antigen test kits – Dec 24, 2021

Many Canadians are looking to rapid COVID-19 test kits to provide themselves with an extra layer of security from the Omicron variant.

In some provinces, however, procuring these tests is easier said than done.

Read more: Finding rapid COVID-19 tests across Canada, from relative ease to utter frustration

Residents of Ontario, B.C., Alberta and Quebec have all had trouble getting their hands on these tests, sometimes lining up for hours only to find out they have run out.

Meanwhile, in Saskatchewan, roughly 8.6 million kits have been sent out to over 500 distribution centres across province.

Many of those tests are already in Saskatchewan homes. Residents pick them up from local libraries, co-ops, chambers of commerce and firehalls, to name a few.

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Click to play video: 'Rapid testing kits widely available in Saskatchewan' Rapid testing kits widely available in Saskatchewan
Rapid testing kits widely available in Saskatchewan – Dec 20, 2021

Saskatchewan’s Public Safety Agency president, Marlo Pritchard, recently said, “Saskatchewan is leading the nation in distributing this important preventative tool. This is a great example of the province pulling together to help each other.”

Pritchard also added that 200,000 test kits have been set aside to be used in Saskatchewan schools in the new year.

As of Dec. 17, the province had roughly 300,000 tests in a warehouse waiting to be deployed to public distribution centres.

Read more: Rapid COVID-19 tests: When to take one, and what to do if it’s positive

Saskatchewan has agreed to provide a per capita allocation (14 per cent) to Indigenous Services Canada for further distribution to First Nations communities each monthOut of the four million rapid tests that the province receives each month, 560,000 are provided to ISC and NITHA communities.

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Rapid antigen tests, which use a shallow nasal swab, are typically less reliable than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, but can deliver results in less than 15 minutes. They can be performed at home and used before family gatherings or large public events to help control transmission.

The rise in popularity of these rapid tests may be the reason that the number of PCR tests being taken in Saskatchewan has been on a steady decline.

PCR tests have been on the decline in Sask.
PCR tests have been on the decline in Sask. Global News

During the height of the fourth wave in October, the Saskatchewan Health Authority was conducting almost 20,000 PCR tests per week.

Fast forward to the week of Dec. 13 and it’s down to just over 11,000 tests.

While the SHA is encouraging the use of rapid tests, they want to remind people that they are only to be used if asymptomatic.

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If someone is experiencing any COVID-related symptoms they should call the SHA and book a PCR test.

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