Some rapid COVID-19 test kits sent home with Nova Scotia children in pre-primary to Grade 6 are marked with an expiry date that has already passed, but the province says they are still fine to use.
Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said his team is waiting for clarification from Ottawa and the manufacturer about the actual expiry date. It's either six months or one year longer than the May 2021 date some stamps indicate.
"There's been a … somewhat confusing communication on expiry dates between us and the federal government and the manufacturer," Strang told reporters Thursday.
Some families may have already received a message from the province, sent via their regional centre for education, advising the tests are good for 12 months longer than indicated. That message was premature, but either way, Strang said the tests are still fine for use right now.
He said further communication will be sent out to families to provide the correct expiry date as soon as possible. The earliest the tests could expire is Nov. 18. If that turns out to be the case, replacement kits will be provided.
The rapid test kits were sent out to families as part of a pilot project that started last month to encourage parents to test their children if they're showing one or more symptoms of the virus, before sending them to school.
Strang said the best scenario is to use the rapid tests for a single symptom. If a child has more than one symptom, they should preferably get a PCR test at a primary assessment centre, but Strang said if that isn't possible because of time or geographical constraints, the rapid test is better than no test at all.
Strang said the pilot program could be expanded depending on the way the province's COVID-19 epidemiology progresses.
He said he expects some types of COVID-19 testing to continue "well into 2022."
"What that type of testing is, where we have it, the parameters around who gets tested is very much driven by the evolving epidemiology of the pandemic," said Strang.
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