N.S. to ramp up testing, pilot gargle test at IWK Health Centre

October 7, 2020
N.S. to ramp up testing, pilot gargle test at IWK Health Centre

Nova Scotia will ramp up COVID-19 testing and pilot a gargle test at the IWK Health Centre, Premier Stephen McNeil announced during a news briefing Tuesday.

McNeil said the province’s primary assessment centres will be larger and opened longer with increased staffing. Lab capacity is being increased to process 2,500 tests per day by mid-November. Equipment is also being added in Sydney in early November so tests won’t have to be sent to Halifax to be analyzed and processed.

McNeil also said the IWK Health Centre in Halifax is doubling its capacity to increase the speed of testing in children. Beginning Wednesday, the children’s hospital will begin piloting a gargle test for children ages four to 18.

“It is more comfortable for children [than the nasal swab] and if the pilot is successful, we will soon be able to do this at all our primary assessment centres,” the premier said.

“Our intention is to have all of this in place by November to be ready for flu season and a potential second wave.”

McNeil said the funding for these expansions has been accounted for through national programs and the province’s existing budgets.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, said the gargle test has the same level of accuracy and reliability as the nasal swab. 

‘Now is not the time to be relaxing’

As Strang has often done during COVID-19 briefings, he acknowledged some Nova Scotians may be feeling fatigued by some of the measures being put in place, such as wearing masks and self-isolation after travel.

He also said he’s heard opinions that because case numbers are so low in the province, some restrictions should be loosened.

“We have to remember that it’s because of these restrictions … that allowed us to be as safe as we are today, and it’s what will allow us to be as safe in the weeks and months ahead,” he said.

Strang says Nova Scotia’s case numbers are so low because of the strict restrictions. (Communications Nova Scotia)

He noted that these restrictions, especially on the border, are important since cases are on the rise in other parts of the country.

“Now is not the time to be relaxing and becoming complacent around COVID,” he said.

Strang reminded Nova Scotians to be vigilant about safety protocols for Thanksgiving weekend.

No new cases

On Tuesday, the province reported no new cases of COVID-19, based on 482 tests done Monday. To date, Nova Scotia has had 1,089 positive cases and 65 deaths related to the virus.

The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are:

  • New Brunswick reported two new cases of COVID-19 Monday, bringing the province’s number of active cases up to five. One new case is in the Saint John region and the other is in the Moncton region. Both are connected to travel and both are self-isolating.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases on Monday. The province has four active cases. 
  • P.E.I. reported two new cases on Sunday. They are unrelated and involve travel outside the Atlantic bubble. The two people infected are in self-isolation. The province has three active cases.


Anyone with one of the following symptoms of COVID-19 should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811:

  • Fever.
  • Cough or worsening of a previous cough.

Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the 811 website:

  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Runny nose.


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