2 Hamilton public schools to offer asymptomatic testing on the weekend – Hamilton

Two Hamilton public schools will participate in the city’s first-ever “targeted” rapid COVID-19 tests on Saturday.

Public health says Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary and Orchard Park Secondary will be the sites for the voluntary testing using rapid antigen tests. The clinic is expected to run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Feb. 13.

The director of the city’s healthy families division and chief nursing officer Jen Vickers-Manzin says the clinic will likely give 400 people on-site the Panbio COVID-19 Antigen rapid test.

The test, the first of its kind to be authorized in Canada, can be analyzed on-site without additional equipment or a laboratory setting and can produce results within 20 minutes.

“It’s really a screening tool. A screening type test. It’s not a diagnostic test,” said Vickers-Manzin.

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“So it helps to detect where there may be cases of COVID-19 in asymptomatic individuals.”

Vickers-Manzin says the results will come online as recipients will be able to check out their results via a QR Code. Those with a positive test can expect a call from public health.

Read more:
Public health still ‘working out’ asymptomatic testing plan for Hamilton schools

The mobile clinics are a part of the ministry of education’s plan to test asymptomatic students and staff in schools across the province at potential “hot spots” or schools in outbreaks.

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Last week, Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said the province had procured and deployed 25,000 antigen tests to ramp up asymptomatic programs across Ontario.

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“These are tests to give answers to parents or staff within an hour or two,” Lecce said.

“That’s a game-changer and a differentiator from the fall to the winter. That’s a new layer of protection introduced on the advice of the medical community because of the new risk profile.”

Meanwhile, the city says some students and staff from a pair of schools with a history of outbreaks, Eastdale Elementary and Winona Elementary, have the opportunity to register for a rapid test at Orchard Park Secondary School.

The voluntary targeted testing will apply to students who have not already been advised to self-isolate or get testing at a local assessment centre, or for those enrolled in full-time remote learning.

Read more:
Asymptomatic testing could play role in reopening of Hamilton schools

On Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health said the rapid antigen tests are best used for asymptomatic groups that would have difficulty accessing standard diagnostic testing for the coronavirus.

“If somebody is symptomatic, that absolutely should not be the case. We need to use the gold standard test that is out there through the assessment centers in those situations,” said Richardson.

“So that’s primarily where we’re looking at using it in terms of helping us understand transmission in schools.”

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A voluntary asymptomatic testing clinic at Bishop Ryan Catholic Secondary School was initially set to go last Saturday, before being cancelled due to technical issues.

Hamilton Wentworth District School Board (HWDSB) chair Dawn Dank told Global News that public health will continue to look at the variables involved in future tests that will likely be rolled out which may include communities where people have trouble accessing a test.

“So there’s a number of factors that would be at play when they’re deciding where asymptomatic testing will be offered, ” Danko said. “it’s not necessarily just linked to where we’ve had a case or more than one case in a school.”

Consent is needed for students under 18 years old. Those testing positive will be turned over to staff at public health to begin the case management and contact tracing process.

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