Rapid Testing of Staff Latest Preventative Measure
To Protect Manitobans: Stefanson
The province is expanding access to rapid COVID-19 testing for personal care home (PCH) staff, following the successful trial of rapid testing for asymptomatic staff (staff with no symptoms of COVID-19) at three Manitoba personal care homes, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“The fast identification of a positive test result enables the quickest possible action for the facility and the province,” said Stefanson. “Using our available complement of rapid tests to further expand access to this testing will increase the safety of residents and staff in personal care homes.”
PCH staff in participating facilities will have access to rapid COVID-19 testing in the workplace and will be encouraged to be tested once per week, while asymptomatic. Asymptomatic testing (testing of individuals without symptoms of COVID-19) is a tool already used across the province for contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Staff with symptoms of COVID-19 or known exposure to the virus continue to be required to stay home and follow public health advice.
The pilot project involved three personal care homes. Over a four-week period, 1,422 tests were completed across the three facilities, resulting in the identification of three positive test results.
Personal care homes across the province have expressed an interest in gaining access to the testing for their facilities, with nearly 40 PCHs expected to implement the voluntary staff testing in the coming weeks.
The initiative uses the Abbott Panbio COVID-19 rapid antigen test, which provides a result in approximately 20 minutes. Staff at the participating sites are being trained to perform the test and results received as ‘positive’ will be reported to public health as probable cases and will be confirmed by a lab-based test.
“Asymptomatic testing for staff in personal care homes is another tool in our arsenal to combat the spread of COVID-19, particularly in congregate living settings like personal care homes that provide care to our most vulnerable Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “These tests, in addition to other pandemic measures put in place at personal care homes like enhanced sanitizing, heightened screening procedures and the first dose of vaccine being given to all personal care home residents, help keep the spread of the virus as limited as possible.”
Other ways Manitoba is keeping PCHs safe include:
• enhancing monitoring of PCH operators;
• enacting a rapid response team ready to provide around the clock, quick assessment and treatment of residents;
• deploying the Community IV Program (CIVP) to provide hydration to residents; and
• arranging for workers from Canadian Red Cross to provide companionship, redirection and general assistance to health-care workers.
For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit www.manitoba.ca/COVID19.