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COVID-19 rapid testing in long-term care homes could reduce exposures, SFU experts say

January 29, 2021
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Rapid COVID-19 testing would prevent the introduction of the virus into long-term care homes and help detect outbreaks quicker, according to new modelling from Simon Fraser University researchers.

Researchers Caroline Colijn and Paul Tupper performed a modelling exercise to see if screening with rapid testing could reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in long-term care homes. They found that if rapid testing was used for every visitor, there could be a 90 per cent reduction in the number of exposures from them. Screening staff every three days would also result in a 45 to 55 per cent reduction in the number of outbreaks inadvertently brought into these facilities by staff.

"We should be using all the tools in the toolkit and rapid screening could prevent a lot of outbreaks,” says Colijn, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health and professor at SFU. “Rapid tests may not be as accurate as PCR tests, but the comparison here isn't to PCR tests, it's to no regular screening. Rapid tests are accurate enough for screening large numbers of people."

AVAILABLE SFU EXPERTS

CAROLINE COLIJN, Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Evolution, Infection and Public Health
ccolijn@sfu.ca

PAUL TUPPER, professor, mathematics
Pft3@sfu.ca

CONTACT

MATT KIELTYKA, SFU Communications & Marketing
236.880.2187 | matt_kieltyka@sfu.ca

ABOUT SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY

As Canada’s engaged university, SFU works with communities, organizations and partners to create, share and embrace knowledge that improves life and generates real change. We deliver a world-class education with lifelong value that shapes change-makers, visionaries and problem-solvers. We connect research and innovation to entrepreneurship and industry to deliver sustainable, relevant solutions to today’s problems. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities—Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey—SFU has eight faculties that deliver 193 undergraduate degree programs and 127 graduate degree programs to more than 37,000 students. The university now boasts more than 165,000 alumni residing in 143 countries.