Local pharmacy provides friendly pointers when considering rapid antigen COVID test

By Taylor McClure – Special to Brome County News

The rapid antigen Covid tests are starting to be supplied to pharmacies across Quebec and they are in high demand. Brome Lake pharmacy Uniprix Jean-Marc Bélanger will be supplied with a limited amount of testing kits that will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis once received. While the pharmacy works hard to distribute the kits as fairly as possible, owner and pharmacist Jean-Marc Bélanger said there are some things to keep in mind when considering taking a rapid covid test.

While Bélanger will be distributing rapid Covid testing kits, it is not a Covid testing facility or clinic. “There is no testing done in the pharmacy,” reminded Bélanger. “We are just distributing the kits and each kit contains five tests. Our main focus here is to distribute these kits to as many as possible. We are not testing in the pharmacy because we don’t have the facilities to handle people who test Covid positive.”

With high demand for the testing kits, pharmacies are dealing with a limited supply and unknown delivery dates. As of now, pharmacies can only order 108 kits per day and that’s if their distributor has them in stock. Bélanger said that it is helpful to avoid bombarding the pharmacy for information on how to take the Covid test in order to focus on distribution. “The Quebec government has made Youtube videos for the tests in French and if you type in ‘rapid response Covid’ there is a green box and an 8-9-minute video in English of how to use the test from the company.”

The rapid testing kits are supplied by BTNX INC. and provide those with Covid symptoms with a strong indication as to whether or not they should head to a clinic or facility for an official test. “How it works is that, you have to remember that with the antigen test, the higher the viral load, the more symptoms that you have, the higher chances it will say that you have Covid. If you have a positive test, you should get a test at a Covid clinic to confirm if you have it.”

The less symptoms you have, the trickier the test becomes. “If you have no symptoms and a low viral load, you’re not creating a lot of the virus, it might show up as a false negative. So, it’s better to use them if you have symptoms, but the government has told people that if you are visiting people at risk you should take the test; people are trying to get their hands on them for the holidays.”

Bélanger emphasized that as of now, the kit is free and he is providing one kit per person over 14- years-of-age per month. “It’s illegal for me to charge people as the government is paying us to distribute the test; it is not a free service we are offering.”

And he asks that the community be patient while they adapt to additional tasks in their workload. “It’s a good thing to have and we are happy to distribute, but you have to understand that in Brome Lake there are like 5,000-6,000 citizens and 108 kits. We are not covering a lot of the population.”

Uniprix Jean-Marc Bélanger will be updating its website, Facebook page, and voice message
to make people aware if rapid antigen Covid tests are available at the pharmacy.

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