Health Canada approves new, rapid test kit for COVID-19

Health Canada announced that it has approved a new, rapid COVID-19 test kit to be used in remote and Indigenous communities.

The handheld device, about the size of a coffee cup, will give results on the spot.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says they will be useful in remote communities where test results have a long turnaround time.

“I think it will make a lot of difference to areas that have less access right now to the turnaround time,” she said during the federal government’s daily Covid-19 briefing in Ottawa.

“In terms of the supplies what this is dynamic we all know it depends on lots of different moving parts but the procurement contract itself is try to secure supply of the devices with 40,000 units per month in the upcoming months and then see how that progresses in terms of the supply rate.”

The Spartan Cube from Ottawa’s Spartan Bioscience will eliminate the need for swab samples to travel to the nearest lab, which can be a logistical challenge.

The federal, Alberta and Ontario governments are among those who have contracts for the testing kits, which can confirm results in less than one hour.

Ontario has ordered nearly 1 million testing kits, while Alberta’s contract is for 100,000 kits. The Cube uses Spartan’s COVID-19 test cartridges and proprietary swabs, manufactured in Ottawa.

Health Canada greenlit the device on Saturday and Spartan says it will begin shipments “immediately.”

Spartan says the test, in which either the nose or throat is swabbed, can be operated by non-laboratory personnel in a variety of locales such as airports, border crossings, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and clinics.Ned that our technology will be an important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada,” CEO Paul Lem said Monday in a release.

APTN News asked Indigenous Services when the testing kits will be made available but did not hear back by the time this story was posted.

With files from the Canadian Press

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.