Rapid-test kits available in 'circuit-breaker' zones this weekend, rest of N.B. will get them Monday

As COVID-19 cases continue to soar across the province, some New Brunswickers will be able to take advantage of a new approach to testing.

Three sites will be set up in communities considered hot zones -- to offer – rapid-testing kits.

Cindy Lizotte and her twin boys spent their morning at the Moncton Zoo on Friday, instead of being at work and daycare.

"They've been going to daycare for a month and its twice they've had to get tested because they get sick at daycare and they've been negative up to now but that's why we're out of day care," Lizotte said. "So, we're all for rapid testing."

Beginning Saturday, she'll have access to exactly that as there will be three testing kit pick-up locations around New Brunswick.

Anyone who is not considered a close contact to a confirmed case and not showing any symptoms can grab a take home testing kit.

"I just went into a place and got a cup of coffee and did I touch the wrong place where someone had been 10 seconds ago?" said Don Woods. "So having kits available is a good thing."

The program comes as the province announces two more deaths and 87 new cases on Friday.

Pick-up sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in Moncton, Perth-Andover and Grand Falls -- areas all currently under circuit breaker restrictions.

On Monday, the program will expand into 20 more communities.

But Green Party health critic Megan Mitton says she's disappointed it has taken this long.

"I would have liked to see the rapid testing roll out more broadly, much sooner than now," Mitton said. "I do understand that it has different role to play than PCR testing, however I think especially given the circumstances that is can be a useful tool."

Despite the criticism, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard stands behind the province's decision to hold off on a community wide testing program.

"I believe that all of the steps we've taken with regard to testing have shown us that we've done it correctly," Shephard says. "We've been very good, I hope, at conveying to the public that there's reasons why we haven't done mass testing, most importantly because our PCR testing was good."

Shephard says for anyone looking to pick up a testing kit on Saturday at any of the three available sites, all you need to do is to show up. At this time, kits will only be given to individuals in the vehicle, meaning you won't be able to take any extras home for loved ones.