Premier Stephen McNeil announced that Nova Scotia is introducing more improvements in COVID-19 testing after reporting no new cases of the coronavirus on Tuesday.
“Testing is an important part of the public health measures,” said 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.”
Read more: No new cases of COVID-19 reported in N.S. on Monday
According to McNeil, 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 on Wednesday to diagnose COVID-19 in children ages four to 18.
The province said the gargle test is a more comfortable test for children. Once it has piloted the process, the gargle test will soon be available for children at all primary assessment centres.
Read more: Hosts charged after RCMP disperse 3 Antigonish parties with more than 50 people
With 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,” the province stated.
The province announced other improvements, including:
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 chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang, who was also at the press briefing.
“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.”
Three active cases remain in the province as of Tuesday.
According to public health, the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 482 Nova Scotia tests Monday.
To date, Nova Scotia has had 98,110 negative test results, 1,089 positive COVID-19 cases and 65 deaths.
Read more: RCMP fine 4 Nova Scotia university students $1,000 each for failing to self isolate
One person is currently hospitalized in the ICU, the province said.
As of Tuesday, 1,021 cases are considered resolved.
The province’s health officials urge anyone currently experiencing a fever or cough to visit the 811 website to see if an assessment is needed.
In addition, if an individual is experiencing two or more of the following symptoms, they are also asked to see if an assessment is needed:
Shortness of breath