While the federal government and professional groups such as the National Safety Council continue to urge employers to encourage their employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19, other organizations are adding another weapon against the virus to their arsenals: rapid testing.
Rapid antigen testing is quick and easy to administer.
Employers are building the tests into their COVID-19 return-to-office policies. The federal government and companies such as Goldman Sachs are requiring employees to either be fully vaccinated or submit to a rapid test before returning to the office.
Goldman Sachs’ policy says unvaccinated employees are required to get a rapid COVID-19 test on site at the company’s headquarters. If a test comes back positive, they will be asked to leave the building immediately. Unvaccinated employees will be tested on a regular basis.
COVID-19 can be transmitted by people without symptoms. Health Canada reports rapid tests have helped to identify and stop the transmission of thousands of cases in Canada.
Workplaces in Canada using rapid testing found:
- most employers and workers felt better protected and more secure, and
- they also found disruption due to the tests was minimal.
Workers who have had COVID-19 in the previous three months should not receive rapid tests because they may get a false positive result.
Employees who have a positive rapid test result should follow up with a laboratory-based test for confirmation. They should also isolate from others and follow CDC guidance for people who have tested positive.
Most rapid tests are done with a nasal swab. The current tests don’t require a deep nasal swab as some earlier tests did.
The results are ready in 15 to 20 minutes.
How often should employers who want to incorporate rapid testing perform the procedure on employees? Twice a week is recommended.
Rapid tests aren’t a substitute for other COVID-19 prevention measures such as masks and social distancing. If a company adopts testing, other anti-COVID measures need to continue.