The Government of the Northwest Territories will be expanding its Covid rapid testing services as additional equipment is being acquired by the end of the week.

A Wednesday news release states that there will be four new rapid testing units brought to Yellowknife and that patients can expect to receive more Covid-19 tests and faster results.

“Starting immediately, the NWT now can process up to 240 Covid-19 tests per week in-territory,” states the news release. “Before this milestone, rapid testing was limited to select, high-priority cases. Careful analysis of current territorial testing supplies has determined this level of testing is sustainable in the NWT. These tests will be processed using the BioFire test platform.”

That number is expected to increase “comfortably to 500 rapid, in-territory tests per week” with more increases in the future as human resources and supplies allow.

In the meantime, the government’s news release states that additional swabs beyond the NWT’s capacity of 240 tests per week will continue to be sent to Alberta for analysis.

“By increasing our capacity and timeliness of testing, not only will we provide better service to residents, but we will also be better positioned to consider the expansion of testing criteria and potential changes to public health guidance,” the GNWT stated.

People showing severe symptoms of Covid will remain higher priority for testing, according to the territorial government. For those cases, the GeneXpert platform – located in both Yellowknife and Inuvik – will continue to be used alongside the rapid testing services.

This latest acquisition of equipment is part of the GNWT’s attempt to prepare for an additional surge in infections of Covid-19, states the news release.

This week, NNSL Media reported several complaints from residents that test results were sometimes taking much longer than the under-a-week average the territorial government had been aiming to produce.

On Sept. 10, the GNWT announced that wastewater samples were beginning to be tested for Covid-19.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. He came from Prince Edward County, Ont., and obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University...

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