Company offers COVID-19 testing kits for Canadian travellers
SASKATOON -- A Calgary-based company is offering COVID-19 testing kits for Canadians travelling to the U.S.
“You don't need to worry about and stress with, I got to find a testing centre, what are the hours? Can I get an appointment? What's the timing? You literally have your test with you and it’s a lab-grade test in your suitcase,” said Mike Kuzmickas, CEO of Ichor Blood Services.
Last week, the Canadian government announced all travellers five years of age or older must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours prior to boarding a flight to Canada.
The test has to be performed using one of two types of COVID-19 tests – either a molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP), according to the Government of Canada’s website.
Kuzmickas said his company has come up with a solution – a COVID-19 test program, where travellers purchase a saliva test in Canada for $225 and can bring it with them wherever they go.
Then, they must book a video session with a witness while they take the test to ensure the results aren't tampered with.
After that, all they have to do is send it off to the lab where they will get their test results about 24 to 30 hours later.
Kuzmickas said the company has the capacity to test around 150 to 200 people a day.
“The need for PCR testing with respect to travel, that's going to be a thing that’s carried on for years because there's no other way for you to really protect your borders unless you can ensure that people coming in on the plane are PCR negative,” he said.
There are no international or transborder flights operating out of Saskatoon due to the pandemic, but the airport said it welcomes the development of enhanced public health and safety measures for air travel, including arrival and departure testing.
“We look forward to further developments in this area in order to support a safe recovery of the aviation industry,” the airport said in a statement.
Joseph Blondeau, the head of Clinical Microbiology at Royal University Hospital, also said additional testing options are an added benefit but must meet certain requirements.
“It has to be a test that has reasonable sensitivity and specificity, meaning that it detects a positive when you’re positive and calls you negative when you’re negative. It has to be very easy to use and easy-to-understand instructions for the consumer,” he told CTV News.
Right now, Ichor Blood Services’ testing program is only available to Canadians travelling to the U.S.
However, Kuzmickas’ hope is to expand to other countries as well.
“The long-term implications of this program in terms of opening up the global skies and stopping all these WestJet and Air Canada layoffs, I think is tremendous.”