Manitoba

Symptomatic Manitobans shouldn't seek rapid COVID-19 tests at pharmacies, association says

Pharmacists Manitoba is discouraging those with COVID-19 symptoms from seeking out rapid antigen tests available at pharmacies.

Rapid testing at pharmacies has never been intended for use by symptomatic people: Pharmacists Manitoba

Pharmacists Manitoba is discouraging symptomatic people from seeking rapid tests at pharmacies amid 'extremely low' supplies. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

An association that represents pharmacists in Manitoba is discouraging people with COVID-19 symptoms from seeking out rapid antigen tests at pharmacies.

Pharmacists Manitoba is instead urging those people to go to provincial testing sites.

Rapid testing at pharmacies has always been intended for asymptomatic individuals, the organization said in a news release Thursday. Those with symptoms, as well as asymptomatic close contacts of positive cases, are asked to go to public test sites where PCR tests are done.

Former Pharmacists Manitoba president Ashley Hart said pharmacists have been "extremely busy" lately.

"We are fielding many questions daily related to who can come into a pharmacy for a rapid antigen test," Hart said in a statement. "We wanted to help share the current public health recommendations to Manitobans."

Demand for PCR tests has surged at testing sites as the Omicron coronavirus variant has spread rapidly in recent weeks. That's resulted in hours-long waits for testing and sample-processing backlogs that have seen some people waiting over a week to get results.

Manitoba recently began giving out free rapid tests at those sites as well to symptomatic people, those age five and up with symptoms, and asymptomatic close contacts of someone who has tested positive.

Rapid tests administered by pharmacists run between $15 and $70, according to Pharmacists Manitoba.

Pharmacies will continue to carry rapid tests in stock for those without symptoms and those who have not been a close contact of a positive case, the association said.

Pharmacies are still selling Health Canada-approved take-home rapid tests to the public, but supplies are "extremely low."

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