Rapid Antigen Screening Program
The North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that, in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada, the chamber will be providing free COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Screening kits to small and medium-sized businesses with 150 or fewer employees.
These rapid self-screening tests will play an essential role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, by allowing businesses enhanced workplace screening to identify and isolate COVID-19 cases among their staff, thereby keeping their employees, workplaces and customers safe. Rapid testing is critical to curbing the spread of the virus and allowing businesses to open safely.
The latest information from Health Canada suggests that up to one-third of people carrying the virus are asymptomatic causing little or no noticeable signs, however, over 50% of known cases were transmitted by an asymptomatic carrier. This makes it incredibly important to find asymptomatic carriers in order to combat the spread and get to more normalized community life.
A COVID-19 rapid screening test can be performed anywhere (e.g., on-site, at the place of employment) and does not require shipping a specimen to a lab for processing. It takes approximately 15 minutes to yield a result.
Businesses must do some video training, confirm the training and complete some forms. Kits will then be available for pick-up at the NBDCC office at a scheduled date and time. Reporting results is no longer required for the program.
The Ontario Ministry of Health recommends businesses screen their employees two times a week using these tests.
STEP # 1 – GETTING STARTED
Designated Screening Supervisor
Each business participating should assign a Designated Screening Supervisor, who will be the contact person. This is the person that must complete the training, order, and pick up the kits. Reporting results are no longer a requirment for the program. The Screening Supervisor only needs to complete the training once; it is not required to be repeated to place subsequent orders.
(one time only, prior to first order)
The following two training videos must be viewed in their entirety by the Designated Screening Supervisor, and we strongly recommend that they be shared with all employees who may be taking part in the screening process.
We require confirmation that the Designated Screening Supervisor has viewed the above videos in their entirety.
STEP #2 – Ordering Your Kits
Please email Donna Backer at [email protected] the following information:
1. Name of Business
2. Name of Designated Screen Supervisor
3. How many employees
Once the email is received you will be contacted directly to arrange a pick up day and time at the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce office at 205 Main Street East (main entrance on Wyld Street).
Who can businesses give testing kits to and who can we screen?
You CANNOT give kits to anyone. They are ONLY for use with your employees that are frequently coming to the workplace. You also cannot test anyone else other than employees coming to the workplace, this is essential as reporting preliminary positives or inconclusive results may call into question your ability/authority to do so. Employees have the right to refuse, but when they comply that is consent to collect and report the data.
What is the accuracy of these tests?
Rapid antigen POCT are less sensitive and specific than lab-based PCR tests, meaning that results are not as accurate. As such, rapid antigen POCT may yield some false negative test results (i.e., a result that indicates the individual is not infected with COVID-19 when in fact they are), and to a lesser extent, some false positive test results (i.e., a result that indicates the individual is infected with COVID-19 when in fact they are not).
How is the screening administered -through the nostril or mouth?
Rapid Antigen Screening uses a nasal swab and is not invasive. The requirement is the swab must be inserted into each nostril for 5 to 7 seconds 2 cm (1 inch) inside the nasal, while ensuring the inside of the nostril is wiped by the swab.
Who can perform the test on the employee?
The Ministry of Health has authorized that supervised self swabbing may occur if a trained individual (persons are considered training once they have watched the training video) or health professional is supervising the self swabbing.
What is the frequency we should be testing our employees?
The recommendation from public health is that all employees should be tested 2-3 times per week. It is understood in some settings or with a higher frequency of close contact that some businesses will want to screen more than twice per week. Please advise us if that is the case. We would like to help but this will affect our required supply needs at the Chamber, and we may need to work with the province to obtain additional tests.
Conversely some may want to test less frequently or may have a variety of schedules that employees are in the workplace. It is really up to you, but please, put the safety of your employees first, and that will ensure you have a safe workplace.
Do these kits have an expiry date?
Yes, they do, however it appears that all of our supply has an expiry date in 2022-23. Using the kits after they expire cannot be assumed to have the accuracy they do prior to expiry. Caution should be taken to review the box and ensure they are not expired.
I am a consultant on workplace safety, can I order on behalf of my clients and screen their employees?
No, these kits are provided free of charge to small and medium sized businesses for their sole purpose. A designate employee must be assigned the responsibility of taking the supervisor training, ensuring proper screening processes are adhered to. There are avenues available for third party vendors to purchase their own kits and outside of this program to provide screening services, this program is intended to remain complimentary and direct to employers only.
Can I purchase extra kits so I can screen those I want to, if so, how much do they cost?
No, these are not for sale, we are not authorized to charge anyone for these kits, conversely the document you signed also requires that you not sell or distribute these as well. The test kits are provided in-kind from the provincial government.
I am a volunteer/employee for an organization we have a number of volunteers that would like to meet regularly in-person. Can these kits be used for that purpose?
These tests should only be used in instances where someone must be at work – they shouldn’t be used as tool to allow someone to be at a workplace who should otherwise be at home.
Rapid Testing for the Provincial Antigen Screening Program
Ontario Ministry of Health – Health Data Collection Services (HDCS) Rapid Antigen Test data collection
Ontario Ministry of Health Rapid Antigen Data Collection Data Definitions
Ontario Ministry of Health Antigen Testing Data Collection FAQ
Ontario Ministry of Health Rapid Antigen Test Data Collection Guidance Document