Results from a government-mandated COVID-19 screening program for front-line public servants are not being tracked by Manitoba Public Health at this time.

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Results from a government-mandated COVID-19 screening program for front-line public servants are not being tracked by Manitoba Public Health at this time.

Deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal said the rapid antigen testing program for unvaccinated health-care workers, education and child care staff, and a number of other government employees, is not run by public health.

"To the best of my knowledge, it is not being followed," Atwal said Wednesday.

He said people who test positive on a rapid test are directed to take a confirmatory PCR test and, if the result is positive, it’s at that point public health launches an investigation.

However, Atwal said, at this time, public health would not be "separating out the rapid test positives" from results found through PCR testing for the purposes of reporting.

On Wednesday, the Free Press reported six asymptomatic, unvaccinated health-care workers had a positive result since rapid testing — required by public health order — came into effect Oct. 18.

The positive results were confirmed with a PCR test, a spokesman for Shared Health said, and noted three cases were in staff from Prairie Mountain, two from Southern Health, and one from Winnipeg.

However, the Manitoba government was unable to say how many educators, child care staff and other designated employees have tested positive as part of the screening program.

Regular rapid testing for unvaccinated government employees who have contact with vulnerable populations is meant only for people without symptoms of infection; symptomatic people are directed to take a PCR test.

Atwal said the mandate allows "enterprises to continue to function with the workforce."

"For the small percentage of employees who are not vaccinated for whatever reason, it makes that work environment safe and it makes that environment safe for even the public to interact with those individuals as well," he said.

"It mitigates risk. It doesn’t eliminate it 100 per cent. We recognize that and we still encourage and say that the testing doesn’t replace vaccination."

danielle.dasilva@freepress.mb.ca

Danielle Da Silva

Danielle Da Silva
Reporter

Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.