Demand prompts Sask. to remove list of locations to get COVID-19 self-testing kits



Saskatchewan has removed a list of locations where residents were supposed to be able to get COVID-19 rapid, self-testing kit from its website ahead of the program’s launch this week. Last week the province posted on its website 20 locations where more than 1.3 million COVID-19 rapid, self-testing kits were supposed to be made available to the public. That list was removed from the website over the weekend with no notice to media or the general public. The Ministry of Health says the removal was because of an incredible demand for the take-home tests, which aren’t yet available to be picked up.  “As soon as the locations were posted, many locations received phone calls and foot traffic, despite the kits not having shipped yet,” said Matthew Glover, a spokesperson for the ministry, in a news release.  The self-testing kits are supposed to be available to the public for asymptomatic surveillance as part of Saskatchewan’s Test to Protect program, which begins this week.  The testing kits are free of charge and members of the public are supposed to be able to pick up tests at fire halls, local chambers of commerce, and SHA testing and assessment centres. The province said the tests will be made available sometime later this week, although it didn’t provide a specific date or time.  The ministry said it will post location where the kits can be picked up as the deliveries are made.  It will be first-come, first-served, with a limit of one testing kit per family.  Confusion reigns  Multiple organizations posted about their lack of knowledge around availability of the test kits.  Warman Fire Rescue was supposed to be one of the distribution points for the rapid testing kits. A post on the Warman Fire Rescue Facebook page Sunday evening informed residents that it had yet to receive the tests and didn’t know when they would arrive or how many it would get. “We will post here when we get them and details on rules for distribution,” the post read. “Coming to the Firehall, phoning us or contacting Members won’t help.” CBC News observed multiple people attempting to walk up to the Regina Chamber of Commerce, another one of the locations on the province’s list before it was pulled down. All of them stopped and got back in their vehicles once they saw a sign taped to the door informing them that the rapid tests were not available.  ‘Prevent asymptomatic transmission’ In a news release last week, the Ministry of Health touted the incoming program as a way to stop asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19.  “Routine, voluntary testing at home will help prevent asymptomatic transmission to those who are not able to be vaccinated and will reduce COVID-19 transmission in the community,” read the release.  The province said these tests cannot be used to fulfil the negative test result requirement for event venues and some businesses. They are also “not a substitute for COVID-19 vaccination.” The 1.3 million kits are a part of 2.6 million rapid antigen test kits that the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is also handing out to schools, congregate living settings and First Nations communities in the province. Of the remaining 1.3 million test kits, more than 360,000 will go to First Nation communities via Indigenous Services Canada and about 720,000 are planned for schools. The rest will go to other areas of the program including congregate living settings, health-care workers and select businesses registered with the SHA workplace surveillance program. Beginning next week (week of October 18), COVID-19 Self-Testing Kits (rapid antigen kits) will become available to all Saskatchewan residents. Participation in the Test to Protect Self-Testing program is voluntary. <br>Read more: <a href=”https://t.co/iR4XyecdM1″>https://t.co/iR4XyecdM1</a> <a href=”https://t.co/XQJspf1lCK”>pic.twitter.com/XQJspf1lCK</a>&mdash;@SaskHealth The testing kits are being distributed in bundles and are expected to go quickly to one kit per household on a first-come, first-served basis. Saskatchewan has also asked the federal government to send four million test kits per month, rather than the one million the province originally requested.



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