To manage current and growing demand for COVID-19 testing the Manitoba government is making take-home, self-administered rapid tests available at provincial testing sites to Manitobans as well as other vulnerable Manitobans, Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon announced today.
“The centralized use of rapid test kits is necessary to manage the supply we have in stock,” said Gordon. “Making take-home, self-administered rapid tests available to symptomatic Manitobans who seek a COVID-19 test will help manage the potential demand of tests when the omicron variant of concern becomes more prominent.”
When an individual visits a testing site, the type of test they receive will now be based on their vaccination status.
- if they are symptomatic and vaccinated, they will receive a take-home, self-administered rapid test;
- additionally, a random number of fully vaccinated people will be selected for a PCR test as a control measure.
- if they are symptomatic and unvaccinated, they will receive a PCR test; and
- if they are a symptomatic, high-risk and unvaccinated, they may receive a PCR test and a take-home, self-administered rapid test and may be referred for monoclonal antibody treatment.
If the rapid test comes back positive, the individual will be advised to return for a PCR test to confirm the result, which is when the positive test result would be reported publicly. For those who test positive on follow-up PCR test, the individual will be contacted by a public health official who will provide information about isolation and also help determine if the individual meets the criterial for monoclonal antibodies treatment.
While not a substitute for vaccination, monoclonal antibody treatment can help reduce the risk of hospitalization from COVID-19 in those that are high risk for severe illness. The treatment gives the body temporary antibodies to help the immune system fight the infection. Early testing is important, as the treatment is only effective in the early phase of infection. To learn more, visit: https://gov.mb.ca/covid19/treatment/index.html.
The minister noted the rapid testing changes will be introduced incrementally at testing locations throughout the province. Current locations implementing the rapid testing changes include:
- drive-thru testing site, 1066 Nairn Ave., Winnipeg
- drive-thru testing site at MPI, 125 King Edward St., Winnipeg
- walk-in testing site, 1 Research Rd., Winnipeg
- testing site, 100 Easton Dr., Selkirk
Gordon also noted that to further help prioritize testing, Manitobans who are seeking a COVID-19 test for out-of-province travel purposes should not attend provincial testing sites. Rather, they should seek out a private provider.
In addition to making rapid test kits available at provincial testing sites, test kits will be provided at 20 Manitoba Families social services offices across the province. More than 15,000 test kits with three tests each will be distributed to regular clients starting later this week. An additional 1,764 kits will be provided directly to Community Living Disability Services clients in living independently with supports. Nearly 400 kits with three tests each will be provided per month to staff at child and family service agencies for use when visiting vulnerable children and clients.
Manitoba continues to distribute rapid testing kits and has increased the availability and access to rapid tests for employers through an agreement with the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. At this time, more than 500,000 rapid tests are being provided to workplaces each month.
Rapid antigen tests are also being distributed to families with students in kindergarten to Grade 6 in provincial schools, as well as schools in First Nations communities.