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Man. agribusiness participating in rapid COVID testing program

Man. agribusiness participating in rapid COVID testing program

Winkler Meats has offered workers tests since April 12

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A Winkler, Man. meat packing facility is among the sites taking part in a provincial asymptomatic COVID-19 rapid testing pilot project.

Winkler Meats has been offering its employees the Abbott PanBio antigen rapid test since April 12.

Staff who have taken Red River College’s virtual program for the anterior nasal swab are administering the tests.

Tests can be done by nasal swab or a deeper nasopharyngeal swab with results coming in about 20 minutes.

Testing is still in the early stages and therefore not enough data is available to determine the program’s efficacy.

“We are in the preliminary stages of the rollout, and therefore do not have enough information to share at this point in regards to how the project is going,” Virginia Friesen, human resources manager with Winkler Meats, told in an email.

The Manitoba government announced its testing pilot project on April 19.

The testing sites include businesses from multiple sectors including Air Canada, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and the Alamos Gold Lynn Lake mining operation.

The goal is to identify asymptomatic people before they enter the workplace, said Heather Stefanson, Manitoba’s minister of health and seniors care.

“We are partnering with Manitoba businesses and critical services to make the best use of our rapid test supply with the goal of identifying asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the workplace and other critical settings that would otherwise go undetected,” said Stefanson in a press release. “This rapid test program will help us protect more Manitobans as we deal with a rise in COVID-19 cases.”

As of April 21, Manitoba has 36,632 total cases of coronavirus. Of those cases, 1,833 are active and 961 people have died.

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