Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand responds to a question during a news conference Tuesday October 6, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Feds say 100,000 rapid COVID-19 tests have arrived, being distributed to provinces

Feds say 100,000 rapid COVID-19 tests have arrived, being distributed to provinces

OTTAWA — Procurement Minister Anita Anand says the first shipment of rapid tests for COVID-19 has arrived in Canada, but their eventual destinations remain shrouded in mystery.

Canada signed a deal late last month with Abbott Diagnostics in the United States to buy 7.9 million ID Now tests, which can produce results on the spot in under 15 minutes.

The first shipment of 100,000 of the tests arrived in Canada over the weekend. Anand said another 2.4 million should arrive before the end of December and the rest in the new year.

Shipments of another rapid test, the Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Panbio antigen test, are expected to start soon. Canada bought 20 million of those tests, with 8.5 million expected by the end of 2020, and the rest in 2021.

“Our government continues to step up Canada’s testing capacity in securing the supplies that we need,” Anand said in a written statement.

The tests are to be deployed to provincial and territorial governments under an agreement to share the supplies based on both population and need.

But neither Anand’s office nor Health Canada will say which province will get them first, or how many will be shipped where. Ottawa also will not say where tens of millions of masks, respirators and other personal protective equipment ordered by the federal government are being sent.

In a global shortage of PPE in the spring, Ottawa began negotiating bulk contracts for desperately needed face masks and N95 respirators and other equipment on behalf of the provinces.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday more than 800 million pieces of PPE had been received to date and that 20 million of those were distributed to provinces this month so far.

But Health Canada will provide no breakdown of which province got what equipment.

Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner said she is hoping to force the government to be more transparent about this in a health committee study she is proposing.

The Conservatives Thursday will move a motion calling on the health committee to study multiple facets of Canada’s pandemic response, including everything from procurement of supplies and tests, to public health advice on mask wearing, the border closure, long-term care facilities and plans for vaccine approval and distribution.

“I am doing my best to compel them to be more forthcoming,” said Rempel.

A similar motion was put to the health committee directly two weeks ago, but Rempel Garner said the government filibustered the committee and prevented the motion from proceeding. She is hoping putting the motion to the full House of Commons will be more successful.

Rempel Garner has been particularly critical of the government for being slow to get rapid tests available, noting many other countries approved them long before Canada did.

Canadian officials said they approved the tests as soon as possible when they were shown to be both safe and effective.

The ID Now tests were approved for use in Canada on Sept. 30 and the Panbio tests Oct. 5. They can be used by trained health-care professionals, on people with symptoms of COVID-19, as a complement to the existing laboratory-based tests when rapid results of many patients could help control the pandemic.

That may be, for example, long-term care homes, schools or food processing plants, where physical distancing is difficult.

Provinces like Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba are desperately trying to improve testing capacity as the second wave of COVID-19 continues to surge.

Demand for testing soared in September as the second wave began to hit, and Canadians in many provinces reported having to wait hours for a test, and many days for a result.

The only tests available before now had to be sent to a laboratory for processing which became overloaded. At one point, Ontario alone had more than 90,000 test swabs backlogged at labs waiting to be analyzed.

The testing delays meant people were waiting longer for notification of positive results, and their close contacts were not asked to isolate and get tested for several days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2020.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Teresa Kutynec, Red Deer Christmas Bureau president, dressed up as Mrs. Claus during the Charity Checkstop on Saturday. The event supports four nonprofit organizations: the Christmas Bureau, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Red Deer Food Bank and Women’s Outreach Centre. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Charity Checkstop raises money for nonprofit organizations

Red Deerians can support four local nonprofit organizations without even having to… Continue reading

(Advocate file photo).
Woman ‘beyond frustrated’ by Red Deer College program’s volunteer requirements

Teddie Briggs says she was “beyond frustrated” after learning Red Deer College’s… Continue reading

Hugh Danielson and Brayden Watts, of Red Deer are trying to spread the word about a new innovation for wheelchairs that they think will be especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Brayden Watts)
Red Deer company lands exclusive patent rights to wheelchair extension

By some small miracle, Hugh Danielson and Brayden Watts stumbled upon a… Continue reading

A nurse gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. Health Canada has reversed course on home test kits for COVID-19, saying it will now review applications for such devices. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Employee at Bethany CollegeSide in Red Deer tests positive for COVID-19

An employee at a Red Deer continuing care facility has tested positive… Continue reading

The Government of Alberta has identified 1,828 new cases and 15 new COVID-19-related deaths, which brings the provincial death toll to 590. (File photo)
Alberta identifies 1,828 new COVID-19 cases on Friday

Central zone has 1,251 active cases

The commemorative plaque is seen on the outside wall at the Polytechnique in Montreal, on Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. Sunday will mark the 31st anniversary of the murder of 14 women in an antifeminist attack at Ecole Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Scaled-back, virtual ceremonies to mark 31st anniversary of Polytechnique killings

MONTREAL, France — The anniversary of the attack that cut short the… Continue reading

A man wears a face mask as he skateboards along a street in Montreal, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
COVID-19 cases hit new records as Tam urges perseverance, promises vaccine on the way

Canada’s top doctor urged cautious optimism — and a healthy dose of… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Manitoba judge rules church can’t hold drive-in services forbidden by health order

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge has rejected a church’s request to hold… Continue reading

Homeowners Cora and Alec Dion pose in the basement of their home in Fort McMurray, Alta., on May 8, 2020. More than seven months ago, the Dions were forced to flee Fort McMurray for the second time in four years as a spring flood threatened their home. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Halinda
Fort McMurray residents still cleaning, considering options after spring flooding

‘It’s worse than just having water, because it’s ice mixed in with the water’

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand responds to a question during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. Anand says as soon as she knows when the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil, she will share that information with the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Negotiating contracts for vaccines in development needed flexibility: Anand

Health Canada officials are days, maybe even hours, away from approving the COVID-19 vaccine

Speaker of the House of Commons Anthony Rota rises in the House of Commons, Wednesday, May 13, 2020 in Ottawa. nbsp; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Speaker Rota reflects on first year presiding over unprecedented virtual Parliament

‘It’s not what I signed up for but it is what it is’

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $17 million Lotto Max draw

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $17 million jackpot… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Hay’s Daze: Not used to seeing giraffe with a mask

My bad. Now there’s an expression that used to stick in my… Continue reading

Most Read