News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

December 17, 2021

MANITOBA BEGINS MAKING FREE COVID-19 RAPID TEST KITS AVAILABLE TO FIRST NATIONS SCHOOLS

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Rapid Testing for Students One More Tool to Prevent Outbreaks, Give Peace of Mind to Parents and Caregivers: Gordon, Cullen

Manitoba is making rapid tests available to students in kindergarten to Grade 6 at First Nations schools as a first step in providing kits for students across the province, Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon and Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced today. 

“While our best tools for families to celebrate safely this holiday season are still vaccination, staying home when you are sick, mask use and reducing contacts, rapid tests are another tool that can be used to help screen for cases and provide peace of mind to parents and caregivers,” said Gordon. “Based on the supply we have, we have started to provide rapid test kits to First Nations schools and will expand the distribution to other K to 6 students across the province as we receive more tests.” 

The Manitoba government has obtained a limited supply of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits from the federal government. Given supply limitations, the distribution will begin with First Nations schools and expand to other school divisions as additional supplies are received.

Each kit includes five tests, which ensures families can test each child every three or four days as students return to school. While the manufacturer recommends these tests be reserved for specific locations such as workplaces, Manitoba public health officials have approved these tests for personal use.

”We know many children under the age of 11 have not yet had the chance to become fully immunized, which is why are targeting the tests to younger students,” said Cullen. “As we receive more tests, we will provide kits to other school divisions to ensure we can keep schools open and a safe place for children to learn.” 

Test kits are being made available on a voluntary basis. Public health officials have advised work continues to determine the most effective way to make rapid testing kits more widely available to others in Manitoba and will share more information in the coming days.  

The minsters noted today’s announcement builds on other government efforts to provide rapid tests to businesses and to protect vulnerable populations. Since October, the Manitoba government has been shipping more than 500,000 tests a months to support rapid testing programs at businesses, for staff at personal care homes, schools and child-care centres, and to government testing programs for staff in the public services and health care. In addition, the Fast Pass testing program for teachers and child-care staff was introduced last January to provide rapid access to testing. 

Students showing signs and symptoms of COVID-19 should use the online COVID-19 screening tool at https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/screening-tool/ and visit a provincial testing site. For a list of provincial testing locations, visit www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/testing/locations.html#map

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