NWT to increase COVID testing

The territory has procured multiple rapid testing units.


An outdoor testing site was set up in Yellowknife in late March. (CKLB file photo.)

The Northwest Territories has procured several rapid testing units in an effort to build COVID-19 testing capacity.

The NWT is aiming to increase its testing capacity from an average of 175 a week to 500.

Effective immediately the territory will be doing 240 tests a week.

Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer, says the increase in rapid testing will likely not change the 14-day isolation period for those entering the territory.

“The one consideration with testing is if you’re testing people with no symptoms there is a higher false negative rate, which means people can have the virus and not detect it,” Kandola said at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

One of the ways the territory hopes to build it’s capacity is with the installation of the GeneXpert — which has a one-hour processing time — at Stanton Territorial Hospital and in Inuvik .

However, this is being reserved for the highest priority cases.

Dr. Sarah Cook, NWT medical director, says health officials are in the process of creating a a priority list for the testing units.

She says this will include those with health issues, residents in remote communities, and people in places with a high risk of transmission — such as long-term care facilities.

In addition to the GeneXpert, the Stanton Territorial Hospital is in the process of installing additional testing machines which can provide results in as little as 24 hours.

This includes the BioFire device at Stanton which is running up to 48 tests per day, this is being used predominantly for symptomatic testing.

The territory is in the process of installing four Diasorin Simplexa devices at Stanton, but the devices are awaiting validation.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He is happy to call the Northwest Territories home and is always listening for stories that matter to the community. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at luke.carroll@cklbradio.com