New rapid testing machines cuts down COVID-19 results time

Sign for the drive through COVID-19 screening service in Yellowknife. (Supplied by the NTHSSA).
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New rapid testing machines have been installed in a number of communities, allowing COVID-19 test results to be returned quicker.

The Abbot ID Now point-of-care testing platform has been installed in Hay River, Fort Smith, Norman Wells, Behchoko, Fort Simpson, and Yellowknife, with 21 machines in total.

These new machines will get results back in as little as 15 minutes, according to a statement from the NWT Health and Social Services Authority.

Results from these machines will be counted as presumptive positives, and both positive and negative results still have to be confirmed either in Inuvik or at Stanton Hospital. The machines can process about 25 tests a day, and are operated by a healthcare professional.

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Plans are in place to also expand to other communities in the coming weeks.

“Building testing capacity has been a major focus for the NWT health and social services authorities throughout this pandemic,” Sue Cullen, Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority said in a statement. “The hard work of staff across the system is paying off as we have a robust and rapid testing regime that further supports the defenses created by NWT’s public health orders.”

From November 13 to November 27 the NWT completed 687 COVID-19 tests, the average turnaround time from sample to lab report in the NWT has been 20 hours.

“As we move towards the holidays, with higher chances of any of us being exposed to COVID-19 than ever before, doing your part and getting assessed is what will keep our communities safe, and our territory stable as we finally see glimpses of light at the end of this tunnel,” Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories said in a statement.

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