MONCTON, N.B. -- Eight laboratories across New Brunswick will soon have the ability to test for COVID-19.

Upgrades will be made in hospitals to Genexpert machines, often used for flu swabs.

That's good news, says Dr. John Dornan, regional chief of staff for Horizon Health.

"People would collect specimens in each of these seven hospitals, run them up to the lab, they would be put on this machine, where we already have the technology and staffing, we would have upgraded the machine so that it can read COVID-19," Dornan says.

Results will come back in as little as 45 minutes.

The upgrade is being funded by the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation’s New Brunswick COVID-19 emergency fund.

Dr. Jennifer Russell, New Brunswick's chief medical officer of health, says the seven sites across the province to receive upgrades include: Edmundston, Campbellton, Bathurst, Miramichi, Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John.

"They will be available in eight of the regional labs," Russell said. "The daily capacity in each is around, for the smaller centres, maybe 16 a day, up to the larger centres, 84 a day."

Both patients and staff will be able to access testing. Dornan says this is crucial for frontline workers.

"It's very difficult to send people home to self-isolate for 24 or 48 hours when we are in a crisis in terms of staffing and what we need to do with our hospitals,"

Swabs in New Brunswick are currently being sent to the Georges-Dumont Hospital in Moncton and patients have to wait up to 48 hours for results

Not only will the upgrades speed up return time and cut transportation, there will also be an increase in the amount of testing.

"So far, we've been able to meet our demands," Dornan said. "But next week, the next two weeks, the demand will grow exponentially and these machines will be set up to allow us to meet that demand."

Cost for the testing upgrades is around $300,000.

They are expected to begin as early as next Thursday.