Researchers Deploy COVID-19 Rapid Test Pilot at YVR

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A pilot project at Vancouver Airport (YVR) engages volunteer travelers to take rapid COVID-19 tests before departing on their domestic flights.The project is jointly managed by UBC and Providence Health Care, and sponsored by YVR and WestJet, in the hopes of determining whether rapid tests at airports are worth it.

YVR Chief Executive Officer Tamara Vrooman said testing could potentially be rolled out more widely to give people greater peace of mind when they fly.

“With the second wave, we know that many, many people are worried about COVID if they have to travel. We think that’s another way to give them the confidence they need, ”she said.

Travelers who volunteer for the project will stop at the pod installed outside the check-in area of ​​WestJet’s inland terminal.

There they will have two samples taken: one from a nasopharyngeal (nose) swab and another from a mouthwash. Results will take 20-30 minutes.

The study is open to residents of British Columbia between the ages of 19 and 80 who have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.

If a test is positive, the participant becomes ineligible to fly and will have to undergo further tests approved by Health Canada to confirm the diagnosis of COVID-19, according to WestJet.

Volunteers who meet the eligibility criteria can register to participate in the study online or at YVR. (CBC)

The airline says these people will receive an information brochure with details on how to change or cancel their flight at no cost.

According to Vrooman, the project will last around three months and hopes to attract more than 1,200 participants.

Since the start of the pandemic, air travel has circled the world as travel restrictions came into place and people became disturbed by the physical proximity of others when they flew on an airplane.

Vrooman said YVR is currently operating with just 15 or 16% of the number of passengers it had a year ago, with most traveling on domestic flights.

She said passenger safety would be key to helping the industry bounce back in the future.

Interested volunteers can register online or on site at YVR.

WestJet says volunteers should allow two hours to participate in the study, although participation should only take 75 minutes.

Calgary and Toronto airports are also running COVID-19 rapid test pilots, but on arriving passengers.

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