“Huge community response” to COVID-19 mobile testing in Liverpool

·3 min read

More than 250 COVID-19 tests were performed over two days as the Nova Scotia Health Public Health Mobile Units rolled into Liverpool.

“It was a great weekend. We had a huge community response, which was awesome, and we were really, really happy with everything,” commented Holly Gillis, public health manager, public health mobile units. “We had a great location and the legion was a fabulous host.”

The testing took place February 13 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and February 14 from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 38 on Henry Hensey Drive.

Those wanting tests could pre-book appointments or simply drop in.

The Public Health Mobile Unit project hit the ground with a fleet of 10 vans in December 2020, with the goal of reaching out to communities across the province and thereby increasing the number of people getting tested for the coronavirus.

“We know in Nova Scotia that getting tested is fast, easy and free, and it’s a good way to protect ourselves and our communities from the spread of COVID-19,” said Gillis.

The mobile clinics offer another option for Nova Scotians in addition to the primary assessment centres that exist across the province and the rapid pop-up testing clinics that are also being held in various locations across Nova Scotia.

Gillis conceded the different options may be a bit confusing, but their goal is the same – to get as many people tested as possible.

“Some people may find it tricky to go online or call 811 to book an appointment,” she said, explaining that she’s been advised seniors in particular find it difficult. Whereas the idea of the mobile clinics is that people can just show up and get the test done.

While all Nova Scotians are encouraged to review the screening tool located on the Nova Scotia Health website and check for symptoms regularly, Public Health Mobile Units offer support for outbreak, contact tracing and testing for people without symptoms.

At the mobile clinics, Nova Scotia Health staff use the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test administering a nasopharyngeal (NP) swab, or gargle/swish option for those under 18 years of age. According to Gillis, NP swabbing is the optimal specimen collection method for COVID-19 PCR testing because it pulls from deeper in the nasopharynx and has been proven to have a high viral concentration.

This is why the NP swab is the standard for reliable testing, she explained, adding that all samples collected through the Public Health Mobile Units go to the lab.

The rapid (Antigen) test detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus. This allows the results to be obtained quickly, however it is not considered to be as accurate as the PCR alternative.

To do a self-assessment or book a test, call 811 or go to: www.covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca. For testing locations go to www.nshealth.ca/coronavirustesting.

Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin