Getting tested for COVID-19

Last modified: 
Mon, 05/25/2020 - 11:37

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Why testing is important

To slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 is of utmost importance to diagnose and isolate individuals infected with the virus. By getting tested, residents play an important role in containing the virus because the more information we have about it, the better will be able to respond to it.

Who should get tested?

Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call a healthcare provider. They may recommend that you get tested.

What is the test for COVID-19?

Depending on location, the NWT is using two different types of swabs to test for COVID-19. Both have been deemed acceptable for COVID-19 testing by our partners in Alberta (where our specimens are sent). One type of swab is called a nasopharyngeal swab.  The health care provider has the person put their head back and inserts a flexible swab deep into the back of the nose to collect the specimen. The other swab collection kit involves collecting a specimen from inside the nostril. The swabs are then processed and sent to the laboratory for testing.

Where is the test for COVID-19 done?

In the NWT COVID-19 swabs are collected by a healthcare provider and then sent to ProvLab-Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) in Edmonton, Alberta to be processed. Some health facilities in the NWT are collecting swabs in “drive-by” testing sites. Call your local public health or community health centre to find out if this service is available in your community.

How long does it take to get the results of a COVID-19 test?

It can take up to one week to get the result. Your health care provider will notify you once the results are in and will provide further advice at that time. While waiting for your results, you will need to continue to mandatorily self-isolate. Once you receive your results you will need to remain on self-isolation until your symptoms resolve and you have been in isolation for a minimum of 14 days.  If your symptoms worsen during this time or continue past the 14 days you should contact your healthcare provider.

Why can’t everyone get tested for COVID-19?

Many people are asking if they can be tested for COVID-19 even when they do not have symptoms.  The test for COVID-19 must be ordered by your health care provider. If you do not have the recognized symptoms, testing for COVID-19 is not recommended at this time.

Getting a negative test on one day does not prevent you from becoming infected and becoming positive with the virus in the future.  A negative test now when you do not have symptoms may make you feel safe when the best recommendation to protect yourself and others is to practice social distancing and healthy respiratory practices

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or any other cold or flu like symptoms, stay home and away from others.

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

If you or someone in your household is experiencing symptoms, go or stay home and:

A health care provider will provide guidance on testing. 

Anyone who is experiencing severe symptoms is advised to call 9-1-1.

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