Rapid testing kits being distributed in Fraser Valley COVID-19 hotspots

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Rapid testing kits are being distributed in high-transmission areas of the Fraser Health region, with the most recent pop-up being in Chilliwack.

Upkar Singh Tatlay, the executive director of Engaged Communities Canada Society, says he and his peers first started talking about distributing rapid COVID-19 testing kits in May.

It’s a collaboration between Engaged Communities Canada and the Fraser Health Authority, with the latter providing statistics and guidance about where the highest risk of transmission is within the Fraser Health region.

With 10 years of work behind them, they have connections in the community and boots on the ground that helped them make their goal a reality near the end of September.

Their seventh rapid testing kit distribution event ended on Saturday and was a success, Tatlay says.

Engage Communities Canada Society’s mission is to empower communities to have better access to testing. To that end, they held planning sessions with stakeholders and partners to try to ensure involved parties felt heard and considered.

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Tatlay says the events that came before Saturday’s were pop-ups, “mostly for practice” so they can learn how to improve the program in the future.

“There’s obviously high demand. We just want to be sure we’re doing it properly,” he says.

So far, he feels the reaction to their decision to distribute rapid testing kits has been “fantastic.”

“We get a full spectrum of community members. They run across various socio-economic statuses. You talk to people and each one has a different story for why they’re there,” says Tatlay.

“We are focused on controlling community spread and placing these kits in the hands of people who are vulnerable.”

He’s happy to report they haven’t been faced with any conflict or pushback from the public so far.

“There has been, in some cases, significant hesitancy when it comes to vaccines and masks so we did anticipate some … but as far as our sites go, we’ve had none of those community members show up,” says Tatlay.

They will be announcing dates as they become available, but are relying on statistics on the infection rates before they land on official distribution locations.

Follow their social media for updates on their next distribution sites.

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