WINNIPEG - The government of Manitoba says it’s expanding a COVID-19 rapid testing program for Manitobans without any symptoms of the disease. The Fast Pass program is already in place for teachers and personal care home staff, and the province says workers in critical services and several other sectors may now be eligible to be tested.
Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson says the province now has enough supply to administer two types of rapid tests to detect asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in more workplaces and other areas that may otherwise go unnoticed until an outbreak occurs.
Stefanson says the expanded strategy will use antigen-based rapid tests to focus on helping workers in non-health-care work environments who’d especially benefit from routine testing. The province plans to begin with populations that are at a higher risk of COVID-19 outbreaks due to their location, supply chain, or living arrangements, or serve communities or have a workforce that is disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
The province says it’s distributing a three-month supply of Fast Pass tests to organization leaders, and supporting them to administer the screening program report results on their own, with Red River College providing a two-hour training course. Most of the rapid tests use nasal swabs, but don’t need to be administered by healthcare professionals, as they don’t need to go as far into the nasal cavity as a PCR genetic test.
Sites involved in the initial expanded Fast Pass rollout include Air Canada, a food processing plant, a gold mine in Lynn Lake, and the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba.