Barrie Chamber runs out of rapid COVID-19 tests

Demand has soared in the wake of the Omicron variant

With the Omicron variant now making tracks across Ontario, demand for rapid COVID-19 tests has gone through the roof.

The must-have item this Christmas season has resulted in the supply of kits running out at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber has been supplying the rapid screening tests to small and medium-sized businesses, those with 150 employees or fewer, since June. To date, the chamber has put out 100,000 screens to over 1,000 businesses, with 20,000 kits distributed in the last week and a half.

Executive Director Paul Markle says demand soared in the wake of recent announcements about Omicron.

“We are completely out,” he said. “In fact, we’ve actually been forced to close the portal, and we won’t be receiving any kits, though they have been ordered a while ago.”

Markle doesn’t anticipate receiving a new supply until mid-January.

The free program is an initiative in partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario and Canadian governments.

Markle believes, through the Ontario Chamber, about 8 million kits have gone out among participating chambers.

“We’re catching asymptomatic people, so this is helping. The numbers aren’t massive, but we’re catching people.”