Dr. Russell confident with N.B. testing numbers, despite consistently lower than other provinces
FREDERICTON -- On Tuesday, New Brunswick conducted 593 COVID-19 tests while Nova Scotia completed 2,564.
Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, says New Brunswick has relied on the Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, considered the most accurate tool to determine if a person has the virus, while Nova Scotia also uses the rapid test.
"We have always really tried to maintain our minimum threshold for being confident with our data in terms of PCR testing and when you look at positivity rates, we've been comfortable with our positivity rate as well," she said.
She says while testing is still important, her focus is on encouraging more people to get vaccinated.
"Our protection is really coming from our vaccination rates and that's why it's really important to get them as high as possible," she said.
New Brunswick doctors are hoping to see testing numbers remain steady.
"The increase in COVID-19 cases over the past few days indicates the virus is still present amongst us," said Dr. Jeff Steeves of the New Brunswick Medical Society. "If you are experience any of the COVID-19 symptoms or have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, it is critical you get tested."
The province may not be using rapid tests, but businesses are, with help from the Edmundston, Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton chambers of commerce.
They're providing rapid tests to businesses with fewer than 300 employees. Last week, the Fredericton chamber alone distributed almost 1,000 testing kits – and they believe demand will only increase to give employers, employees and customers peace of mind as restrictions loosen.
In August, the Fredericton International Airport will be adopting a testing program similar to the one at the Greater Moncton Roméo LeBlanc International Airport.
It's voluntary for travelers, but it will cost between $149 and $299 per test.
Dr. Russell says one restriction is still in place under the Public Health Act.
"We're not Alberta, we're New Brunswick and we are doing contact tracing," she said. "And when public health tells you to self-isolate for 10 days, you have to self-isolate for 10 days.