The Northwest Territories says it’s expanding the list of people eligible for Covid-19 tests to include a wide range of much milder symptoms.
Until recently, the NWT’s public health staff would only test those who had a limited range of symptoms related to Covid-19, and particularly those who had recently travelled or been exposed to a confirmed case.
On Friday, confirming remarks by the NWT’s chief public health officer earlier in the week, the territory said this had changed.
“As we continue to learn about this new virus we need to reassess and adjust our approach, which includes who we test,” read a statement issued by the NWT government.
“Research has shown that individuals with Covid-19 might experience symptoms other than fever, new or worsening cough, or shortness of breath.”
The NWT government’s list of symptoms that will now get you a Covid-19 test includes:
- New or worsening cough
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Loss of smell
- “A general feeling of unease, or being under the weather”
The reference to a general feeling of unease is believed to relate to physical, not mental wellbeing. If you miss organized sports or are watching a horror movie, you do not qualify.
For advice about whether you need a test, you can call 8-1-1 or take the NWT government’s online self-assessment. If you’re sure you need a test, simply call your local health centre (or, in an emergency if your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1).
“We want more people to get tested so that we can better understand this virus,” said Diane Thom, the NWT’s health minister, in a statement.
“By getting tested, you’re playing an important role in containing this virus. The more information we have about it, the better we will be able to respond to it.”
The territory continues to hail what it considers to be an “aggressive” testing strategy. Friday’s news release took time to point out that the NWT leads Canada in per-capita testing (meaning the proportion of its population it has tested to date).
So far, just over 1,650 tests have been carried out in the territory. Of those, five came back positive but all five patients have since recovered.
The territory’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, has said more testing could play a crucial role in restrictions being eased for some regions in the next month to six weeks.
There hasn’t been a newly confirmed Covid-19 case in the NWT since April 6.