Last modified: 
06/16/2021 - 11:02

When to get tested

If you or someone in your household is experiencing symptoms, stay home and call to be assessed for testing:

  • Yellowknife: 867-767-9120 or book online
  • Inuvik: 867-490-2225
  • Fort Smith: 867-621-2233 or 867-872-0562
  • Hay River: 867-874-8400 (between 08:30-16.30). After hours, call 867-874-8050.
  • All other communities: call your local health centre

If you are having difficulty breathing or your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1.

A self-assessment can help determine whether you should visit a health care provider for further COVID-19 related assessment and testing.

How a test works

A swab from the back of your nose or throat is collected for testing. The ability to pick up a virus with a swab depends on the “viral load” which is the amount of virus present.

For a test to accurately determine if a person is COVID-19 positive, the individual must be at the stage in their illness where there is enough virus present in their nose or throat for the swab to pick up.

Isolating after a test

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, your health care provider will give you directions on how to isolate. 

If you have been tested for COVID-19, but have no known exposures or travel within the last 14 days: 

Your health care provider may discontinue isolation once:

  • You have received a negative COVID-19 test result as communicated by a health care provider
  • You do not have a fever
  • Your symptoms have improved

Always follow the advice of your health care provider. They are trained to recognize risk and may require you to isolate for a longer period of time if there is any reason for concern. 

Rapid testing

Anyone who is assessed as requiring a COVID-19 test may now get a rapid test

The target turnaround time is within 24 hours of receiving the sample at the laboratory. This does not mean all tests will come back within a day of being collected because tests need to be brought to a laboratory.

Asymptomatic testing

People can have the virus for days before showing any symptoms. Getting tested when they do not have enough of the virus in their body can lead to a false negative test because the test could not detect the small amount of virus.

This could lead to a false sense of security for people who have been tested yet have been directed to continue to self-isolate by a health care practitioner.

This means any strategy for asymptomatic testing must be specifically targeted to be helpful to public health professionals.

The NWT will always re-evaluate public health approaches as new evidence emerges.