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Everything you need to know about COVID-19 rapid testing in Estevan

In Estevan, Southeast Options Consulting provides two types of rapid tests, which can be used by partially vaccinated or not vaccinated people to access different facilities and venues.
Estevan's SE Options Consulting provides rapid antigen COVID-19 testing.

ESTEVAN - Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test is now a requirement in many facilities in Estevan as well as in the rest of Saskatchewan and Canada. Many people opted in for a vaccine, but there are a lot of those who, for different reasons, need to have tests done regularly for work or to access organizations mandated to check for it.

In Estevan, Southeast Options Consulting, located at 1101 Fifth Street, provides two types of rapid tests, which can be used by partially vaccinated or not vaccinated people to access different facilities and venues. The Mercury reached out to owner Tara Smart to learn more about what kinds of tests they do, where they can and can't be used and why they decided to bring in rapid antigen COVID-19 testing.

SE Consulting Options is now offering BD Veritor Plus Analyzer and Abbott Panbio. Both tests are approved by Health Canada. The testing process takes about 20 minutes in both cases. Customers must be asymptomatic in order to get any of those tests done, and the results are 97-98 per cent accurate.

BD Veritor tests are usually needed for travel purposes as they are accepted by most airlines. However, Smart reminded people they should first check with their airlines. The results are processed through a BD Veritor analyzer, so there is no technician error, and those results are sent to a customer using special software via email or cell phone.

With Abbot Panbio, customers receive the results in the form of a card.

"Those ones we're hoping that they're good for restaurants, some venues, doctor's appointments, non ticketed events. But it depends on where you go and who will accept those tests," Smart said.

She went on to explain that SE Options Consulting is currently not a SHA-approved clinic so their tests, while the same, are not accepted by crown corporations, and potentially some other venues. Smart recommended that people first check with their employers or places they want to attend if rapid antigen tests will be accepted.

"We were hoping that we would be SHA approved however, that didn't happen. So we're just trying to fill in everywhere else that we can," Smart said.

Now that the criteria to be and SHA-approved clinic has been clarified, they will be revisiting the approval process.

The nearest SHA-approved facility would be Nobel HSSE Management Ltd. in Oxbow and Regina, and then HazTech in Regina.

Smart also reminded that it's important to check with the institution that requires the test results, on how long the results will be accepted. In most cases, employees need to do a new test every week, shift workers are required to provide the results ahead of each new shift, and for venues, the government said, tests are good for 72 hours.

Rapid antigen tests SE Options Consulting provides require a nasal swab, but they differ from PCR tests.

"It's a shallow nasal swab. With the PCR tests, a lot of people are uncomfortable because you basically have to tickle their brains. With these ones you don't have to go near as far," Smart explained. "Antigen testing basically is designed to pick up the infection before symptoms start. So it's a tool for early detection. And the PCR tests are more for if you're symptomatic. So if we do get a positive on (antigen tests), then they are encouraged to either call 811 and follow whatever they say and/or go get a PCR test."

While they are getting busier, they also try to accommodate the needs of the community in the best way. The hours of operation haven't changed yet, but if any of the staff is available, they do come in after hours and on weekends.

"I'm just trying to accommodate as many people as I can. And I realized with students and stuff, because we are closed from 12-1 p.m., those hours just don't always jive with people. So I am willing to do evenings, weekends, as the need prevails. I've just been seeing how busy we get, and then if we do start seeing the real uptick, then we will be opening more hours," Smart said.

To have the test done, people just need to bring their photo ID.

It's also preferred that customers book their appointments, so that way they can avoid having many people in at a time. However, they do take walk-ins if time allows.

SE Options Consulting is also providing tests at a discounted price to youth.

Smart also noted that while most tests are done because of the government mandates, they are also there to give people peace of mind. 

"If you're a close contact with someone, a lot of times that kind of weighs on your mind. So we have had people come in, as long as they are asymptomatic, and do a test for peace of mind. We are there for that as well."