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First antigen rapid test for COVID-19 gets Canadian approval

Last Updated Oct 6, 2020 at 5:15 pm MDT

Medical staff holds swabs for rapid COVID-19 tests at a high school in Rome, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. While hospitalizations and intensive care admissions are slightly rising, Italy has so far managed to keep its coronavirus infections per 100,000 people far lower than France, Spain or Britain, which earlier this week were forced to impose new restrictions to avoid a second pandemic wave. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)

Health Canada gave the green light to another rapid test for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Panbio test from Abbott Rapid Diagnostics in Germany is the first antigen test to be approved in Canada.

Antigen tests look for specific markers on the outside of a virus, while all the tests previously approved in Canada look for the novel coronavirus’s genetic material.

The newly approved test can deliver results in 15 minutes, using a nasopharyngeal swab and a device that somewhat resembles a pregnancy test stick.

Abbott’s website said the test is accurate at diagnosing a positive case 93 per cent of the time.

Negative results are accurate 99 per cent of the time.

This is the fourth test approved by Health Canada that can be completed without sending specimens to a laboratory.

It’s also the second that can provide results in 15 minutes or less.

Alberta response

The province reported four new cases and seven recovered cases of COVID-19 in Wood Buffalo in the last 24 hours.

All are in Fort McMurray, which has 39 active cases, one death, and 247 recoveries of the illness.

Outside the urban service area, there are still three active cases and 64 resolved cases of COVID-19.

Wood Buffalo’s rural hamlets didn’t report a new case of COVID-19 in more than a week.

Across Alberta, there are 276 new cases and one additional death linked to the illness.

Dr Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said on Oct. 5 that health officials will speak with the City of Edmonton.

Their conversation will focus on the spike of new cases in the Edmonton Zone, which has a record 1063 active cases.

Edmonton has an active case rate of 94.6 cases per 100,000 Albertans.

That figure is almost two times the threshold under the provincial watch.

RELATED: Health officials ‘steering in uncertain waters’ in tackling second wave of COVID-19

The RMWB also remains on Alberta’s COVID-19 watch, but with a 50.6 active case rate per 100,000.

Alberta has 1900 active cases, 281 deaths, and 17,030 recoveries of COVID-19.

61 Albertans are in hospital with 13 in intensive care.

This article includes excerpts by Mia Rabson of The Canadian Press.