Free PCR tests made available to Canadians in Grand Forks

The Canada-U.S. border officially opens to fully vaccinated travellers on Nov. 8.

A cheaper option for Canadian travelers looking to cross the border has become available thanks to Grand Forks‘ public health department.

“We’ve had a lot of inquiries about people wanting to be tested, they want to come down for a quick short trip, so we’re just looking for opportunities to make that an option for Canadians,” says public health nurse Tiffany Boespflug, from Grand Forks’ Public Health department.

Read more: Canadian snowbirds eager to flock across U.S. land border

A negative molecular COVID-19 test is a requirement for all travelers five years of age or older, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, entering Canada. The cost can range up to $200, but Grand Forks hopes to help by offering the test for free.

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The test is something owner Cassandra Jamieson, of Brandon’s McPhail Travel agency, says can be a barrier for travellers.

“There’s so many families right now that want to travel but then we get into the cost of testing … $1,000, $2,000 later, and they kind of just walk away,” says Jamieson.

Jamieson says with the U.S. border being so close for many Manitoba residents, the travel bug has definitely become prominent.

Read more: How should Canadians prepare for a 1-day trip to the U.S. once the border reopens?

“The phones and emails don’t stop, people definitely have the travel bug and want to go.”

She says with the free option available for Canadians, she expects more people to take a trip.

“It’s just crazy the amount of people who just want to go.”

Grand Forks Public Health says their free PCR tests take between 48 to 72 hours in turnaround time.

“We don’t want to have barriers for people to get tested, regardless of what their reason is. We really want to just identify those positive cases and isolate them,” says Boespflug.

Canadians can pre-register for the test ahead of time, and don’t need to bring any specific type of ID.

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Read more: Canada-U.S. land border to open for fully vaccinated on Nov. 8: official

“The option of having a no-cost test is important, especially as cases are still going through,” Boespflug said.

Rapid antigen tests are currently not accepted. The only tests Canadians can use to get back into the country are:

  • PCR – Polymerase chain reaction
  • Nucleic acid test (NAT) or Nucleic acid amplification test (NAATs)
  • Reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP)

All three use a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, nose swab, or saliva sample.

Jamieson says Mexico and Cuba appear to be popular getaway destinations right now. However, she anticipates Hawaii bookings will soon see a spike.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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