Nova Scotia rolling out online booking for COVID-19 tests

Nova Scotians in the Central Zone who need a COVID-19 test can now book their own test online. The province will be rolling out online booking for the rest of the province next month.

The Central Zone includes the Halifax Regional Municipality, Eastern Shore and West Hants. As of Wednesday, the new testing process is available for Nova Scotians getting a test through primary assessment centres in the Central Zone and at the IWK Health Centre.

Online booking is expected to be available in the northern, western and eastern zones by the second week of November.

“The goal here is to reduce the wait times and give people their results sooner. It should take about 10 minutes to book your appointment,” said Premier Stephen McNeil during a news conference in Halifax Wednesday afternoon.

“That means you will get your test sooner and if we are more efficient on the front end, we will be better able to detect COVID, track it and manage the number of cases in our province.”

Nova Scotians must first complete the online self-assessment to determine if they need a COVID-19 test. If they do require a test, they will be directed to the online booking site to make an appointment.

Tests should be scheduled within 48 hours of completing the self-assessment.

If more than one person in a household is exhibiting symptoms, each person will need to complete the online self-assessment to schedule their own appointment.

“It’s quick and simple to do and will speed up the whole process,” said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

The province says 811 will continue to book COVID-19 tests for people who need one, but can’t access the online self-assessment, or wish to speak to a nurse about their symptoms.

“It’s important for people to also know that the self-assessment they go through will direct them to call 811 for an in-person telephone clinical assessment if the type and severity of their symptoms indicate that is needed,” explained Strang.

People living in a health zone that does not have online booking at this time will continue to receive a phone call within 24 to 48 hours of completing the online self-assessment to book a test.

GARGLE TEST

The province also announced Wednesday that the gargle test to diagnose COVID-19 in children between the ages of four and 18 is now available at the following 10 assessment centres across Nova Scotia:

  • IWK Health Centre in Halifax
  • Saint Mary’s University’s Homburg Centre in Halifax
  • Drive-thru assessment centre behind Dartmouth General Hospital
  • St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish
  • Acadia University Club in Wolfville
  • South Shore Assessment Centre in Bridgewater
  • Visitor Information Centre in Yarmouth
  • North Cumberland Memorial Hospital in Pugwash
  • 34 Prince Arthur Street in Amherst
  • Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro

Children who take the gargle test instead of the nose swab will be required to swish salty water in their mouth, gargle with the salty water -- completing both steps three times -- and then spit the salty water into a container.

The gargle test will be available at all primary assessment centres by mid-November.