**** HEALTH/WELLNESS Media Release
More Improvements in COVID-19 Testing for Nova Scotians
Premier Stephen McNeil announced today, Oct. 6, that the province is increasing its capacity to test Nova Scotians with symptoms of COVID-19 as quickly as possible.
“Testing is an important part of the public health measures,” said Premier McNeil. “Our testing strategy has been working very well, but there are always improvements we can make. These changes will allow people to be tested easier and faster.”
The IWK Health Centre will expand its primary assessment centre to double its capacity and increase the speed of testing for children. The expansion will be fully operational by the third week of October.
The IWK will also start using the gargle test tomorrow, Oct. 7, to diagnose COVID-19 in children ages four to 18. It is a more comfortable test for children. Once they’ve piloted the process, the gargle test will soon be available for children at all primary assessment centres.
With the online COVID-19 self-assessment now in place, online booking for testing appointments will also be established. It will dramatically reduce the wait time to book an appointment. The online process will take about 10 minutes, down from 24 to 48 hours.
Other improvements include:
— expanding most primary assessment centres around the province with larger locations, longer hours and more staff so that Nova Scotians can get tested faster
— increasing lab capacity in Halifax to process 2,500 tests per day by mid-November
— adding equipment in Sydney in early November to eventually process tests instead of sending them to Halifax
“Testing is a key part of our overall COVID-19 response,” said Dr. Strang. “When active cases and new cases are low, we can become complacent. It can be easy to not want to get a test or wear a mask if you think there’s no virus here. In fact, it is just as important as ever.”
— primary assessment centres have collected an average of 752 samples for testing per day since the beginning of September
— current lab capacity in Halifax is 1,500 tests per day and an average of 958 samples per day have been processed since the beginning of September
— more information about the gargle test is available at www.iwk.nshealth.ca/COVID-19/testing