COVID-19: Central Okanagan school district delaying distribution of rapid test kits

A health worker performs a 'SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen' test in Lausanne, Switzerland, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. Laurent Gillieron / Keystone via AP

Central Okanagan Public Schools says it’s delaying the distribution of rapid antigen tests to students following a public advisory from Health Canada earlier in the week.

Health Canada’s advisory, sent out on Thursday, cautioned about potential risks associated with misuse or spilling the COVID-19 rapid test liquid on the skin.

“Health Canada has determined that the kits are safe and effective when used as intended,” reads the advisory, which noted that the kits should be used under parental supervision and kept out of a child’s reach.

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“However, many test kits include liquid solutions with chemical preservatives, such as sodium azide and Proclin that may be poisonous if swallowed or absorbed through the skin, particularly in children and pets.”

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The advisory continued, saying “as part of COVID-19 testing initiatives Canadians may receive rapid antigen test kits for self-use from health units, schools, workplaces or other venues that have been authorized by Health Canada for use by laboratories or trained individuals.

“While these kits are safe, effective, and beneficial for self-testing, the product labelling and instructions may not describe or disclose the risks associated with misuse or accidental ingestion.

“This advisory is intended to help fill that labelling gap, and warn Canadians about the risks associated with misuse, accidental ingestion or spillage of rapid antigen test kit solutions.”

To view the advisory, visit Health Canada’s website.

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In response to that advisory, Central Okanagan Public Schools said it is awaiting further instructions from the province.

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The school district said local schools began receiving the rapid antigen tests directly from the Ministry of Education on Monday. Each student was to receive one box containing five individual COVID-19 rapid test kits to take home.

In an email to Global News, the school district said “out of an abundance of caution, the district is delaying the distribution of the rapid antigen tests and is awaiting further direction from the Ministry of Education.”

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