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Rapid COVID testing seeks to put employees’ minds at ease

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The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated that uncertainty gives rise to hesitancy, and not just when it comes to vaccines that have been fast-tracked into production.

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Some employers are also finding it difficult to lure back to work employees, who may worry that their place of employment may be a platform for the spread of COVID-19 and its variants.

Enter rapid testing. To that end, Ottawa and Queen’s Park have teamed up to make rapid-testing kits available to workplaces that want them.

The Simcoe and District Chamber of Commerce is serving as the clearing house for these kits in the local area. The chamber has thousands of kits in stock. Staff members are distributing them to workplaces on a first-come, first-served basis.

Chamber general manager Linda Branderhorst has already chalked up one success story in the short time she’s been handing out the antigen kits.

One employer, Branderhorst reported, detected the coronavirus in an employee who reported to work with no symptoms. The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit confirmed the diagnosis and the employee took appropriate measures to limit the spread.

“They are looking at extending this if employers need it,” Branderhorst said. “But, no, this is not something they are looking to make employers pay for. This is now being rolled out across the country.”

The test at issue involves a shallow nasal swab. The results take 45 minutes to present themselves. Employers who collect the kits must commit to recording positive and inconclusive results and relaying these to the health unit.

“It’s easy,” Branderhorst said. “If we can do it, anyone can do it. A lot of people are saying they’re wary about going back into work. But if you do the test and everyone is negative, you can feel pretty good about working with your colleagues.

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“I’d love to see more businesses come by and pick them up. We feel this is an essential service we can provide and hopefully help kick this thing. I’m tired of it.”

The Delhi and District Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Simcoe chamber for the distribution of the kits. President Jim Norman reported that 14 members of the Delhi chamber have taken advantage of the service.

As a public-health measure, the Simcoe chamber is controlling access to its office on Argyle Street in Simcoe. Those wishing to pick up a kit are asked to call ahead and book an appointment. One of those who did is Dr. Dwayne Willaert, a chiropractor and owner of the Victoria Health Centre on Victoria Street.

“It’s important during a pandemic to stay proactive,” Willaert said. “If someone is positive, the spread in the community can be exponential.”

For information on obtaining a free antigen testing kit, contact the Simcoe chamber at 519-426-5867. The chamber can also be reached by email at chamber@simcoe.chamber.on.ca .

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