Testing

Last modified: 
07/07/2021 - 13:25

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.

Self-Isolation 

  • No isolation for fully vaccinated travellers and household members (regardless of vaccination status) who did not travel. Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to self-isolate in small communities, with Day 1 and Day 14 negative tests.
  • 8-day isolation for partially vaccinated travellers and household members (regardless of vaccination status) who did not travel, with a negative day 8 COVID-19 test. Household members do not require a test unless symptomatic.
  • 10-day isolation for unvaccinated travellers, including children under 12, and household members (regardless of vaccination status) who did not travel, with a negative day 10 COVID-19 test. Household members do not require a test unless symptomatic.
  • Additionally, essential service workers dealing with vulnerable populations or who work in congregate settings or small communities will need a negative day 1 COVID-19 test prior

Additional Testing Requirements

Fully vaccinated travellers entering small NWT communities will require a day 1 test and a day 14 test.

Travellers who are partially or unvaccinated will require a day 14 test if they are travelling to a small community after completing their self-isolation and exit testing requirements in a larger centre.

Small communities are any NWT community that does not include the hub communities of Yellowknife, Hay River, Inuvik, and Fort Smith, as well as Fort Simpson and Norman Wells.

  • This requirement is in place because small communities do not have the same health care capacity as other communities. Lower vaccination rates in some communities mean the COVID-19 risk is higher.
  • This requirement applies to all travellers regardless of residency status.

Fully vaccinated essential workers supporting vulnerable or high-risk populations will require a day 1 test and a day 14 test.

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated essential workers supporting vulnerable or high-risk populations will require a day 1 test and a day 14 test in addition to their day 8 or day 10 negative test.

  • This includes workers who have been outside the NWT in the last 14 days who work in healthcare, correctional, school settings, those working with unvaccinated populations or high-risk settings such as shelters for example.

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.