Alberta students should be given rapid COVID-19 tests for winter break: Opposition NDP

There are renewed calls to make rapid at-home COVID-19 tests more accessible in Alberta, with the official opposition asking the government to consider sending each student home with five free kits for use over the holiday break.

“Every single student in Alberta should be given five rapid tests that their families can use to test themselves, and help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 over the holidays,” said NDP Education Critic Sarah Hoffman.

“Knowing if you’re positive for COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms, can ensure everyone has the quick and proper information to make informed decisions around their holiday plans.”

According to the NDP’s math, sending five rapid tests to 733, 599 students would require 3,667,995 tests of the province’s 5,628,233 supply.

Currently in Alberta, employers and service providers can apply to receive free rapid testing through a provincial program.

They’re also available to students and staff at K-6 schools dealing with outbreaks, but many doctors and have also asked the government to make them more widely accessible to the public.

Health Minister Jason Copping says the option isn’t being ruled out and an announcement on a decision will be coming very soon.

“It’s important that it be used in the right context, because in certain cases, it actually works very well. And others can give you false negatives because it doesn’t pick up as much,” he said.

“That said, we are looking at how do we make this more widely available.”

The UCP government has given out seven million rapid tests to date as part of its provincial program.

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