Covid-19 tests that can deliver results in 15 minutes are now available across the Northwest Territories, the NWT’s health authority announced on Tuesday.
Rapid testing first arrived in six NWT communities in early December, including Yellowknife, Norman Wells, and Behchokǫ̀.
The GNWT now says the program has expanded to all 33 communities.
One of the tests is Abbott ID Now, the same brand used by President Donald Trump’s White House. Each ID Now device can process up to 25 tests a day.
ID Now devices have now been distributed to Fort Providence, Fort Liard, Łutselkʼe and Fort Resolution. A separate brand of testing kit named PanBio is also being distributed to communities.
Despite offering quick results, both ID Now and PanBio require laboratory confirmation as they are so far considered less reliable than the slower process of laboratory analysis.
Any positive results from rapid tests will be treated as presumptive positives until lab confirmation is received. Isolation and contact tracing will be triggered by a positive rapid test.
“These developments in testing add yet another tool to ensure the safety of NWT residents and will ensure we can rapidly identify, isolate, and trace Covid-19 in our territory,” the territory said in its news release.
“Coupled with the continued diligence of NWT residents in following public health orders, this testing regime will be an integral part of the Covid-19 response going forward.”
The NWT is expecting a surge in holiday travel over the next two weeks as people return from time spent with family outside the territory.
An increase in the number of Covid-19 tests is expected as a result. Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola earlier said the territory had ensured health centres had the staff and resources to deal with that increase in testing.