Issue at provincial lab impacts COVID-19 tests; Level 3 status taken off some Regina long-term care homes

The Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Ministry of Health have identified an instrument error at the Roy Romanow Provincial Lab.  That error resulted in up to 255 invalid COVID-19 tests from August 18-22.  The samples have been tested again and 206 are inconsistent with the first result.   To confirm that invalid tests are negative, a full reconciliation of the data has started and should be completed by Wednesday.

Families affected are being notified for those residents in long-term care homes identified as false-positive that have since tested negative and for those living in impacted facilities.

54 residents at long-term care homes in Regina who had tested positive have been re-tested and confirmed to be negative for COVID-19.  This means all long-term care homes not in an outbreak will return to family presence/visitation

Homes currently with confirmed or suspected outbreaks that will remain at Level 3 end of life reasons only include:

  • Extendicare Elmview
  • Regina Pioneer Village Complex Care Unit
  • Wascana Rehab Centre Mental Health Unit

Homes where confirmed or suspected outbreaks have been lifted include: Regina Lutheran Home, Santa Maria, Extendicare Parkside, Extendicare Sunset, Regina Pioneer Village – Transitional Care Unit, and Wascana Rehabilitation Centre Unit 2-6.

This news comes as the province releases new COVID-19 numbers showing 1625 active cases.

Daily COVID-19 map for August 24, 2021

The numbers released Tuesday show 139 new confirmed cases of the virus and four new deaths which brings the provincial total to 592.  The new cases are located in the Far North West (18), Far North Central (2), Far North East (8), North West (13), North Central (16), North East (2), Saskatoon (46), Central West (5), Central East (2), Regina (4), South Central (1) and South East (6) zones and 16 new cases have pending residence information. Almost one half (46.8%) of new cases are in the 20 to 39 years age category.

On Monday when information was not released due to a problem in getting data to the province’s COVID-19 dashboard, there were  179 new cases and two deaths.

There are 100 people in hospital with 14 of those in the ICU.  Of those 100, 69 were not fully vaccinated.

The 7-day average of new cases stands at 184 (15.3 new cases per 100,000)

COVID-19 new cases and vaccination status, August 24, 2021

Age Group Unvaccinated Vaccinated, with One dose, and or two doses <14 days Vaccinated, Second dose >=14 days  Total new cases
0-19 37 1 38
20-29 29 3 7 39
30-39 21 2 3 26
40-49 13 3 1 17
50-59 10 1 1 12
60-69 1 1 2
70-79 1 1 2
80+ 2 1 3
Total 114 9 16 139



Scott Livingstone CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority explains about the errors being detected. “It was on a single instrument and it involved with a very short time period with a very limited number of processing runs. We have taken immediate action to mitigate the cause of the error, we are now confident in our testing processes going forward, as we have been through the pandemic and our quality assurances, which identify this error and we recognize some actions that we have taken have also created a burden to those who have been impacted.”

Fergall Magee, Director of the Roy Romanow Provincial Laboratory explains the process of the invalid tests being detected. “We put samples on the machine that we know are COVID negative, Sunday afternoon 8 of 10 of those samples actually recorded COVID positive, so because of that we went back and checked the 255 tests that have been run since we last done a negative control and of those, 206 were not valid positive.”

While the invalid tests were detected, Magee is still not sure what exactly cause the tests to be falsely positive. “We don’t know, is it an issue with a swab, is it an issue of reagent, is it an issue of instrument, is it an issue of process.” Magee added they are continuing to work on figuring out the cause of the tests.

The Physician Executive of Integrated Urban Health Dr. Rashaad Hansia says the SHA is working to provide communication to the residents and family members of Regina long-term care homes that were affected by false positive COVID tests.

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