New Ross residents proved to be an enthusiastic bunch when it came of the latest round of Nova Scotia Health's local mobile COVID-19 testing.
Public Health conducted two days of voluntary tests March 23 and March 24 at the Royal Canadian Legion branch, where about 160 people showed up to the Forties Road facility for checks.
Among the first stepping up for an examination was the legion's president, Roland Walker. The image was posted to a legion social media platform.
"They were a great host," Holly Gillis, a Nova Scotia Health public health manager, told LighthouseNOW during a recent phone call. "It was a great community to be part of for two days."
Over 90 people came out on Day 1, with more than 60 coming out on the second day.
The public was encouraged to pre-book a testing appointment, but drop-ins were welcome based on capacity. For most, it was their first experience having a COVID-19 test, Gillis noted.
Some people attend mobile clinics to ask questions and not necessarily to get a test, while others who are tested end up calling friends to say the test wasn't as bad as they thought.
There are still people who have preconceived notions, and may be anxious about the testing method. Gillis said that's where Walker helped.
"Their president was the first one in line to get his COVID test, and a picture of him getting a test helps normalize it for all of us."
Nova Scotia Health said asymptomatic testing is a significant tool helping limit the potential of COVID-19 spread in the province. Taking the mobile unit to rural communities, such as New Ross, makes for easier testing access. Anyone with mild symptoms, such as a sore throat, a runny or congested nose or headache, is encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.
"Our goal is to test as many people who want a COVID test," Gillis told LighthouseNOW. "That's the exciting thing about being there two days in a row; the legion was a great partner" and led to a good response to the clinics.
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. This is more complex than a rapid test - not done in New Ross - which detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus, yielding results within about 15 minutes.
Nova Scotia Health has taken its mobile testing to several communities in the Lunenburg and Queens region since it became operational in December.
More than 110 people were tested at the Royal Canadian Legion in Chester between March 11 and March 12.
Over 250 people turned out for two days of testing in Liverpool in February.
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 Nova Scotia Health-sanctioned rapid testing site in Bridgewater January 16 and 17.