Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Getting Tested for COVID-19

Last modified: 
Mon, 03/30/2020 - 13:59

What is the test for COVID-19?

Depending on location, the NWT is using two different types of swabs to test for COVID-19. Both have been deemed acceptable for COVID-19 testing by our partners in Alberta (where our specimens are sent). One type of swab is called a nasopharyngeal swab.  The health care provider has the person put their head back and inserts a flexible swab deep into the back of the nose to collect the specimen. The other swab collection kit involves collecting a specimen from inside the nostril. The swabs are then processed and sent to the laboratory for testing.

Where is the test for COVID-19 done?

In the NWT COVID-19 swabs, are sent to ProvLab-Alberta Precision Laboratories  in Edmonton, Alberta.

How long does it take to get the results of a COVID-19 test?

It can take up to one week to get the result. Your health care provider will notify you once the results are in and will provide further advice at that time. While waiting for your results, you will need to continue to self-isolate.

Why can’t everyone get tested for COVID-19?

Many people are asking if they can be tested for COVID-19 even when they do not have symptoms.  The test for COVID-19 must be ordered by your health care provider.  If you do not have symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath, testing for COVID-19 is not recommended at this time. Getting a negative test on one day does not prevent you from becoming infected and becoming positive with the virus in the future.  A negative test now when you do not have symptoms may make you feel safe when the best recommendation to protect yourself and others is to practice social distancing and healthy respiratory practices.  If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or any other cold or flu like symptoms, stay home and away from others.

Who should get tested for COVID-19?

You should get tested if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19:

  • and you have travelled outside of the NWT; OR
  • you have been in close contact  with someone who is symptomatic and has travelled; OR
  • you have been in close contact with a person who has been diagnosed with or is under investigation for COVID-19, OR
  • lab exposure to biological material if you feel you meet this criteria, please contact your public health unit or health centre for further information as described under “How do I get tested for COVID-19”?

How do I get tested for COVID-19?

If you or someone in your household is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 take the self-assessment or call:

  • Yellowknife: 867-767-9120 or
  • Inuvik: 867-490–2225
  • Fort Smith: 867-621-2233 or 867-872-0562
  • Hay River: 867-874-7201 (between 08:30-16.30). After hours call Emergency Department at (867) 874-8050
  • Other Communities can call their local health centres,

A health care provider will provide guidance on testing. Anyone who is experiencing severe symptoms is advised to call 9-1-1.

What is the procedure if someone tests positive for COVID-19 in the NWT?

NWT health care providers follow the direction provided by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer if someone tests positive for COVID-19. This direction adopts the latest national public health management guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada.