Chester latest local stop for public health’s mobile COVID-19 testing


Nova Scotia public health officials returned to Lunenburg County where hundreds turned out for another round of COVID-19 testing.

More than 110 people showed up for the first day of community-based testing March 11 at the Chester legion, while more than 140 took advantage of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) mobile units on Day 2 on March 12.

"What we try to do with the mobile units is go to rural communities where there are no active cases, and no potential exposures, and just really increase access to testing with that overall goal of focusing on the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in our communities," Holly Gillis, a NSHA public health manager, told LighthouseNOW during a telephone call.

Drop-in and pre-booked appointments were available both days, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Union Street facility in the village. Testing was readily available for all age groups who had no symptoms, and were not isolating due to travel reasons. People with symptoms were told they had to book an appointment so health care providers knew when to expect them.

The overall response to the clinics was positive, Gillis said, and many hoped they would return in short order, which is also a common theme.

"No one's told us not to come back," she said, "and it's great the community sees the service as valuable. We'll definitely be looking at that as we plan out April."

The common testing method was the standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab or, for youths, the swish-and-gargle style. PCR testing detects genetic material specific to the virus, and a lab can pinpoint results within days.

A rapid test, by comparison, detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus, yielding results within about 15 minutes.

Gillis said one type is more complex and detailed than the other but "both are an important part of our strategy, and work complimentary with each other."

Testing is the latest in a suite of COVID-19-fighting tools. Public health advice adapted since the global pandemic began a year ago, as new practices became part of the routine. Physical distancing, regular hand-washing and covering one's coughs and sneezes were among initial recommendations. Mask-wearing came along, and these days regular testing is suggested.

The NSHA's mobile testing units have been in operation since December.

More than 250 in total turned out for NSHA-sanctioned testing February 13 and 14 in Liverpool.

Three days of public health testing in Lunenburg in early February also resulted in more than 200 people showing up.

Meanwhile, just shy of 300 people attended a volunteer-driven NSHA rapid testing site in Bridgewater January 16 and 17.

Thank you for printing this article from lighthousenow.ca. Subscribe today for access to all articles, including our archives!