Rapid Screening

With support from Health Canada, Canadian Blood Services has joined other leading companies and organizations in implementing a voluntary rapid COVID-19 screening program. Rapid antigen screens (commonly known as rapid testing) can quickly detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people and help to identify and reduce risk of further infections.

The introduction of rapid screening is an added layer of protection, but it is not a replacement for traditional COVID-19 testing (PCR test), existing safety protocols or public health guidance. Our safety mitigations including wellness checkpoint screening, mandatory masking, physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and hand hygiene will continue to be enforced.


FAQ

How accurate is rapid screening?

The rapid antigen screens approved by Health Canada and in use at Canadian Blood Services are exceptionally accurate. Fewer than one per cent of all positive results are later proven false through diagnostic COVID-19 PCR tests administered through public health.

False negative results are slightly more common. It is possible, for instance, that someone recently infected with COVID-19 will test negative. For this reason, we ask participants to test twice a week and to remain vigilant with all existing safety measures.

What rapid-screening test is being used? 

The Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device, approved by Health Canada, is being used.  The test produces highly accurate results from nasal swabs in 15—20 minutes.  

Why is Canadian Blood Services focusing on rapid screening when COVID-19 vaccines are available?

Despite the roll-out of vaccines, COVID-19 infection rates remain high in some areas.

Early detection is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and asymptomatic testing complements safety measures already in place. Employees must remain vigilant and follow existing safety protocols, such as masking, practicing proper hand hygiene and physical distancing, and completing wellness screening upon entry. Following public health guidelines remains the surest way to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

What is rapid antigen screening?

An antigen test involves exposing a liquid sample to reactive molecules. The test detects fragments of proteins and produces a preliminary result quickly, much like the pregnancy tests available from drug stores. 

Rapid antigen screens can quickly detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people, helping to identify and reduce the risk of further infections. 

Antigen screening does not replace the traditional lab-based PCR diagnostic testing administered through public health. 

Only a PCR test can confirm a COVID-19 infection. Any employee with a positive result from the rapid antigen screening must get a PCR test within 24 hours. 

When will appointments be available and how can I book?

Once you register, you will receive information on how to schedule appointments using an app.

Click here to book your next appointment.

If I don’t sign up for the program, can I still be screened once in a while? 

Employees can register to participate for the program at any time. 

Participants are asked to book appointments to be screened regularly (twice per week), if possible. Click here to book your next appointment

Repeated testing helps to mitigate against the risk of a false negative. However, if employees can only be tested once per week, or less often, because of their schedule or other factors, they are still encouraged to participate and book screenings whenever they can.

Can I withdraw from the program? 

You can stop participating in the rapid screening program at any time. Participation is voluntary.

When will appointments be available and how can I book? 

Once you register, you will receive information on how to schedule appointments using an online booking system.  

Click here to book your next appointment.

What if I miss a screening appointment? 

If you miss an appointment, book another as soon as possible and shift your screening schedule accordingly.  

Click here to book your next appointment.

If I previously tested positive for COVID-19, can I participate in the rapid screening program? 

Yes, you can! 

Please first remember to follow guidance from your local public health authority and OHS/EHS representatives at Canadian Blood Services to understand the amount of time you must remain away from work after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Once you are cleared to return to work and you can pass the wellness checkpoint, you are eligible to participate in the rapid screening program.  

If you require further guidance on return to work after a COVID-19 diagnosis, reach out to OHS/EHS. 

If I have been vaccinated for COVID-19, should I participate in the program? 

Anyone who receives one or more doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, remains eligible for the rapid screening program. The vaccines do not interfere with rapid antigen testing. At this time, it is unclear whether a vaccinated person can transmit COVID-19. 

Click here to book your next appointment.

Am I eligible for paid leave if I get a presumptive positive result from a rapid screening test?

Yes, you are.

If your rapid screen result is presumptive positive you must immediately leave work, self-isolate and get a PCR test (common lab-based COVID-19 test administered through public health). While you are off work to seek PCR testing, and while you wait to be notified of your PCR test result you are eligible for COVID-19 quarantine leave.

If your PCR COVID-19 confirmatory test result is negative, you may return to work. 

If you receive a positive PCR COVID-19 confirmatory test result, you must follow local public health direction and self-isolate. During this time, you are eligible for paid COVID-19-related sick leave until you are cleared to return to work by public health. When you are cleared to return, please contact OHS/EHS.

For more information on quarantine leave ad COVID-19 related sick leave visit Connect.

Who can answer other questions about the program? 

If you have additional questions or concerns, we encourage you to speak with your manager/supervisor. 

You can also send an email to communications@blood.ca with ‘Rapid Screening’ in the subject line. 

Learn more about Canadian Blood Services’ COVID-19 response at www.blood.ca/employees.

Why is it important that I screen regularly?

We encourage participants to be screened regularly (twice per week). If you have screening too early in the course of infection, when the immune response is still building up in your body, the screen may not detect the viral proteins yet. For this reason, we ask participants to test twice a week — if the COVID-19 infection is too early to be caught with the first screen, it will likely be caught with the second one. We also ask that staff remain vigilant with all existing safety measures. 

Repeated testing helps to mitigate against the risk of a false negative. However, if employees can only be tested once per week, or less often, because of their schedule or other factors, they are still encouraged to participate and book screenings whenever they can. 

Participants are asked to book appointments to be screened regularly (twice per week), if possible. Click here to book your next appointment.