COVID-19 surge in Nova Scotia straining province's testing capacity

·2 min read

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia health officials on Friday announced a change to the province's COVID-19 testing regime in response to the continued high number of new daily infections driven by the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.

Starting Monday, residents who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are close contacts of people who have tested positive will need to complete an online self-assessment to find out whether they need a PCR test or a rapid test.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang said in a news release that the province has "finite resources" for lab-based testing and a limited supply of rapid tests.

"We need to use those resources wisely given the current epidemiology," Strang said.

The province reported 611 new cases of COVID-19 Friday — slightly down from Thursday's record of 689.

Strang noted that Nova Scotians had been encouraged to use rapid tests before gathering with others. But he said the recent surge in cases is straining the province's testing capacity and that rapid tests or PCR testing should be prioritized for people who have symptoms or who have been identified as close contacts.

"Our priority for PCR testing has to be on people who are most vulnerable to disease and people who are needed to keep our health-care system running," Strang said. "But everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will get one."

"For at least the next few weeks, everyone needs to limit socializing to their consistent group of 10, which includes their own household, so there shouldn't be a need for a lot of testing for social occasions," he said.

The new cases reported Friday included 393 in the Halifax area, 99 in the province's western zone, 60 in the eastern zone and 59 in the northern zone.

Public health also reported one new case at Parkstone Enhanced Care in Halifax, where a total of two residents and two staff members at the long-term care facility have tested positive.

Nova Scotia has 4,266 active reported cases of COVID-19 and 15 people in hospital with the disease, including four patients in intensive care.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 24, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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