Province to make rapid antigen tests free to people over 70

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People 70 and older will soon have access to COVID-19 rapid antigen tests through community pharmacies at no cost, according to the provincial government.

 “We started using rapid tests to protect those most vulnerable in our province, including those in long-term care, and now that we have at-home rapid tests available, we are expanding that strategy by making them available to all people 70 years and older,” said Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, in a media release. “This will allow people to quickly test for COVID-19 when they have symptoms so they can keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

The Ministry of Health said it will begin to ship COVID-19 rapid tests to community pharmacies throughout the province this week. 

Starting as early as Feb. 25, people aged 70 years and older can pick up one kit containing five tests every 28 days from participating pharmacies at no cost.

People must present their personal health number when picking up a kit. If picking up for someone else, date of birth must also be supplied, in addition to the individual’s name and personal health number, according to the ministry. 

The province said it expects to receive an additional 12 million tests from the federal government within the next four weeks.

“Our expanded test availability means more people will be able to access rapid tests to use to understand their own symptoms and illness and to take action to limit transmission to their friends, family and work,” said Adrian Dix, minister of health.

The ministry said people should pick up their kits when they are asymptomatic and use one test at a time when they have symptoms. Guidelines for testing continue to indicate tests should be used for symptomatic individuals.

B.C. has distributed over 14.8 million rapid antigen tests as of Feb. 23, according to the provincial government. 

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