Most people whose rapid at-home Covid-19 tests come back positive should phone Protect NWT and not attend a test centre, new guidance states.
With testing capacity in the territory stretched to its limit and a wave of returning travellers expected, the territorial government said on Friday laboratory testing needed to prioritize “highest-risk individuals.”
That means testing centres will no longer confirm “most at-home positive tests,” the territory said in a news release.
“Fully vaccinated individuals who receive a positive result from an at-home test will not need to repeat testing at a testing centre if they are at low risk for severe outcomes and have mild, non-serious symptoms,” the news release stated.
“These individuals will be required to isolate for 10 days along with their household members and other close contacts. They may be asked to inform their close contacts of a positive test.”
If your at-home test comes back positive, you are asked to report that to Protect NWT. The territory said that was a “very important responsibility” so public health could carry out necessary contact tracing and understand exposure sites.
Given the importance of that work, the delegation of positive case reporting to individuals at home was a sign of the strain being felt by the territory’s Covid-19 response system.
On Friday, Yellowknife residents reported no more capacity for walk-in Covid-19 tests by 10am.
Earlier this week, the territory’s health authority told NNSL it was assessing its options regarding testing capacity.
Rapid tests are being handed out at airports and schools but otherwise remain a rarity in the NWT.
The territory said rapid tests would be made available through health centres “as soon as possible.”
An online form can now be used to help residents determine whether or not they need to book a Covid-19 test at a testing centre.
Meanwhile, the NWT’s chief public health officer said all new cases were now assumed to be related to the Omicron variant.
“The CPHO now considers all new cases in the NWT a result of the Omicron variant. The majority of people infected with the Omicron variant will safely recover at home,” Friday’s news release stated.
“A small percentage will have severe symptoms from a Covid-19 infection that require medical attention. The chance of severe outcomes is higher if people are unvaccinated, elderly, or immunocompromised.”