N.S. ramps up take-home COVID-19 testing kit program
A volunteer-led initiative to hand out rapid take-home COVID-19 testing kits is ramping up across Nova Scotia.
Currently, the packages—which include five tests—are available at the Halifax Convention Centre, the pop-up site at Alderney Gate and other rapid testing pop-up sites around the province.
Public Health said mobile testing units have also handed out take-home kits and domestic passengers arriving at the Halifax airport are able to access them as well.
The initiative has been ongoing at various locations since May. A spokesperson with the Department of Public Health said there are plans to make rapid tests more widely available to help make socializing safer during the holiday season, with details to be shared soon.
“It’s about convenience and having options as we go into the holidays,” said Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist and scientist in Halifax.
“I think there are more people who recognize there are home tests available at some of our sites and over the next couple of weeks, in conjunction with partners around the province, there will be more access. I think there’s lots more folks that are going to be taking home tests over the next number of weeks.”
Barrett said these particular tests are meant to be used by people who have no symptoms, have not been at an exposure site and aren’t contacts of people who have COVID-19.
“Those folks should be getting a PCR test,” Barrett said.
In terms of accuracy, Barrett said these tests are about 88 per cent effective in figuring out whether you have COVID-19 or not, depending on the test and how well it is administered.
“You gotta do it well, put the swab in the right distance and do the test as per the instruction but if you do that, these are very, very good tests at figuring out whether or not you’re infectious or not and that’s really our goal here,” Barrett said.
Barrett said there is a firm goal of supplying people with enough tests to get them through the holidays, noting no resource is infinite and it’s possible the tests could run out at some point.
“But you know what, we’re no where near that right now,” Barrett said.