Rapid COVID-19 testing opens to Edmonton airport staff

Numi Health Inc. conducting a COVID-19 antigen test on staff at the Edmonton International Airport on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

The Edmonton International Airport (EIA) has launched a new program to provide rapid COVID-19 testing to front-line airport staff.

The eight-week pilot project is voluntary and currently not available to passengers or the general public.

"This is another level of security and safety for not only our employees, but also for passengers who have to travel right now," Myron Keehn, EIA's vice president of air service and business development, told CTV News Edmonton.

"As air travel starts to return, some form of screening program may be a part of that, so we wanted to get ahead of that."

Mobile medical service provider Numi Health Inc. is administering the antigen tests. Airport officials said results are delivered in less than an hour.

"I have done it once already and it's very, very quick. It gives people peace of mind," said Keehn.

"For the people who do security, our flight crews, or whatever, they're very pleased they have something they can access. It's easier for them to do it here. They don't have to go anywhere."

The Alberta government is helping with the program by paying for 4,000 tests.

Staff can be tested twice a week until May 22.

"We are doing 500 tests a week," said Keehn. "And we encourage all employees, whether they're working in cargo or car rentals, or especially food and beverage, airline check-in, security, to take advantage of the program."

In a news release, EIA reminded travellers it's still offering domestic flights for essential travel and is averaging between 900-1,200 passengers a day.

The release also said that later in the year, travel and industry experts are forecasting a strong demand for travel both within and outside of Canada.

Numi Health Inc. also offers COVID-19 antigen and PCR tests at the Calgary International Airport.