Manitoba

Free COVID-19 rapid tests coming to Manitoba grocery stores, Winnipeg libraries

People in Manitoba will soon be able to pick up free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests at public libraries in Winnipeg and grocery stores across the province.

Retailers could have supply by Wednesday, though all expected to have by early next week: Dr. Jazz Atwal

A health-care worker hands out COVID-19 rapid tests, which will soon be available for free at grocery stores in Manitoba and public libraries in Winnipeg. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

People in Manitoba will soon be able to pick up free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests at public libraries in Winnipeg and grocery stores across the province.

Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's deputy chief provincial public health officer, said about 18,000 tests will be available at public libraries in Winnipeg, while four million are being sent out to grocery stores.

"Some of these [retailers] may have supplies as early as today, but we expect supplies of rapid tests to be in place at all participating locations by early next week," Atwal said at a virtual news conference Wednesday afternoon. 

The province's website says the first retail chains to get the tests will be:

  • Co‑op (42 locations).
  • Loblaw/Shoppers Drug Mart (59 locations).
  • London Drugs (one location).
  • North West Company (29 locations).
  • Rexall (18 locations).
  • Save-On-Foods (five locations).
  • Safeway, Sobeys and IGA (40 locations).
  • Walmart (16 locations).

WATCH | Free rapid tests coming to grocery stores, libraries:

Free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests coming to Manitoba grocery stores, Winnipeg libraries

4 months ago
Duration 0:59
People in Manitoba will soon be able to pick up free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests at public libraries in Winnipeg and grocery stores across the province, says Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba's deputy chief provincial public health officer.

All 18 Winnipeg Public Library branches that are currently open will also have tests to give away, the website says.

Atwal said the province is in the process of signing on additional retail chains to participate.

The province says people can visit currently participating locations for rapid tests starting Monday. The kits, each containing five tests, will be limited to one pack per person or two per household. Stock may be delayed to some retailers as distribution continues, the province says.

No purchase will be necessary to get a kit, Atwal said. 

"Our goal is to ensure these tests are readily available at all locations that are convenient to Manitobans," he said.

The update comes two weeks after the province changed its policies to allow anyone to pick up free rapid test kits at Manitoba's COVID-19 testing locations, whether they have symptoms or not.

The government also said it gave more than 16,000 tests to United Way Winnipeg to distribute to social services organizations and places working with seniors and newcomers.

The recent changes happened because Manitoba now has a bigger stockpile of the rapid tests, Atwal said.

"When we first got rapid antigen tests, we had some supply constraints, so we focused on certain areas …we thought [were] most advantageous from a public health perspective," he said. 

"But as supply increases, we're able to distribute out much more widely."

More information about how and when to use rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 is available on the province's website.

WATCH | Full news conference on COVID-19 | March 2, 2022:

Manitoba government briefing on coronavirus: March 2

4 months ago
Duration 31:35
Provincial officials give update on COVID-19 outbreak: Wednesday, March 2, 2022.

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