Coronavirus: How rapid testing kits could lead to more targeted screenings

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Amid criticism about a lack of widespread testing for COVID-19, Ottawa and the provinces have turned to rapid testing kits to help reduce the test backlogs, and this could change how people are selected for quarantine when lockdowns are lifted.

Rapid testing kits will be important in keeping people safe when they return to work and borders re-open, infection control epidemiologist Colin Furness said.

“Imagine quarantining people for as long as it takes for someone to pick up their luggage at an airport, where it’s either yes or no,” he said.

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He said portable test kits are especially useful in rural or remote communities, where quick access to hospital or test assessment centres may not be possible.

“The general idea of trying to scale up capacity through rapid testing is an excellent thing,” he said.

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Spartan Bioscience Inc., a small Ottawa-based company, is one solution that Ontario and Alberta governments have tapped to increase testing capacity.

The company’s device, the Spartan Cube, is a hand-held DNA analyzer that can provide COVID-19 test results in about 30 minutes.


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