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How labs in Nova Scotia are dealing with a COVID-19 testing backlog

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How labs in Nova Scotia are dealing with a COVID-19 testing backlog

Nova Scotia’s microbiology labs are once again trying to ramp up capacity to deal with a backlog of 45,000 COVID-19 swabs.

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Lab capacity in Nova Scotia is now 15,000 tests per day, nonetheless it certainly level-headed is no longer any longer ample to win up with demand. (Communications Nova Scotia)

Dr. Todd Hatchette knew something had to provide the day 22,000 specimens arrived for COVID-19 testing.

“Temporary surges are manageable, nonetheless lab capacity cannot be increased at the flip of a switch,” he said.

Hatchette, the service chief for microbiology in the central zone of Nova Scotia’s health authority, advised CBC Information via email that a small backlog in the microbiology labs is typical. Or no longer it is the reason Nova Scotians are advised that their results obtained’t be ready for as much as 72 hours.

But that 22,000-specimen day, which came this past week, dwelling things too far behind.

“That spike, and the potential those volumes may continue, led to the determination to refocus testing,” Hatchette said.

Dr. Todd Hatchette is shown at the first rapid testing dwelling in Nova Scotia last November. It was held at a vacant nightclub in Halifax. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

By the point Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, alerted the general public on Friday, 45,000 swabs had been waiting in the queue. Adding to the bad news, Strang said many of those would possible prove to be determined. 

Now, lab testing is limited to of us that have COVID-19 indicators or who have been advised to find a take a look at because of travel, potential exposure, shut contact or upcoming surgical operation.

Asymptomatic Nova Scotians who fair correct want to make certain they aren’t carrying the virus are being directed to rapid testing websites.

New instrument coming

Daily lab capacity started at about 200 tests last March and tripled within a month. It grew to about 5,000 during the pandemic’s 2d wave and then to 15,000 fair correct last week. More than 16,500 tests had been processed Friday.

Hatchette said an additional testing instrument is en path to Nova Scotia to assist additional increase testing capacity.

In the meantime, some specimens may be frozen till they can be processed. Hatchette said tests are typically kept in a fridge, where they’re moral for three days.

Rapid testing became a key part of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 response during the 2d wave of the pandemic last fall. (Robert Fast/CBC)

Some swabs are being prioritized in the event that they require a posthaste turnaround time. A health authority spokesperson said those include tests from outbreaks and lengthy-duration of time care settings, in-patients and pre-operative patients.

Rapid testing ramping as much as personal in the gap

Nova Scotia is unusual in offering asymptomatic testing to anyone who wants it. Most Canadian provinces restrict testing access to of us that are showing indicators, have been uncovered to a confirmed case or meet some assorted order criteria.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie College in Halifax, said Nova Scotia’s broad testing approach has been an essential part of keeping COVID-19 below win watch over in this province. If the strategy can be kept up, it may forestall hospitals from becoming overwhelmed in this third wave, she said.

“If we can win the early detection gadget going … then we have the ability optimistically to no longer discontinue up care for Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario with our ICUs elephantine and kid’s hospitals housing adult patients because we’re overwhelmed,” she said in an interview.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie College in Halifax, has been a champion of widespread, asymptomatic testing to catch and isolate cases of COVID-19 early. (CBC)

Barrett, who has been certainly one of many lead organizers in Nova Scotia’s rapid and pop-up testing operations, said additional testing alternatives are possible to develop into available in the coming days for parents that are now being discouraged from seeking lab tests.

“Are there going to be lineups? Yes, there are…. [But] I finish think we’ll be able to win up,” she said.

Barrett said it was unfortunate that on Saturday, the lines had been short at rapid testing websites. She thinks of us are concerned about overwhelming the gadget, leading some to stay away.

“That’s no longer what we want of us to finish. We fair correct want you to pass to the pop-up websites for a cramped while while we reorient the assorted websites. So optimistically, actually, of us finish arrive to overwhelm us a cramped bit at the pop-up websites.”

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How labs in Nova Scotia are dealing with a COVID-19 testing backlog