Sask. Health Authority seeks 'innovative ways' to ease pressure on health care system
Administered nasal swab tests sit in a container at a drive through, pop-up COVID-19 test centre, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
SASKATOON -- The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said it is working hard to keep up with the demand for COVID-19 testing and tracing as cases surge in the province.
Its goal is to provide testing to people who are symptomatic within 24 hours of receiving a referral as long as they have had symptoms for more than 48 hours, while people who are asymptomatic are typically tested within 72 hours, according to a statement from the SHA.
Drive-thru testing is also available in Saskatoon, Regina and Yorkton and doesn’t require a referral.
The SHA said there are some delays with test results as the priority is on notifying the people who are positive.
“We can tell you that all cases are still notified and isolated within 24 hours of a positive lab report,“ the SHA said.
It added that people who are symptomatic and are being tested must self-isolate until they are called by public health with their result.
The SHA said test results for people who are asymptomatic could be delayed but did not give an exact timeline. It said it all depends on how many asymptomatic tests need to be screened in the lab on a daily basis.
As more cases are reported, the need for contact tracing continues — and it’s a process that can be time consuming.
“The challenge for tracers continues to be with making the connection with all close contacts,” the SHA said.
It said that’s because the priorty is to connect with and ensure the positive case and members of their household are isolating before getting in touch with all other close contacts.
The health authority said it is finding “innovative ways” to help take pressure off the healthcare system and in turn, speed up the testing and follow up processes.
The SHA has set up a callback centre in collaboration with the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Nursing to help deliver negative COVID-19 test results and train students who participate.
SHA laboratories are also in the process of hiring 76 more people, according to the SHA.