NWT Health and Social Services Authorities Enhance COVID-19 Rapid Testing

(Yellowknife – December 9, 2020) – Starting Monday December 7th, 2020, new rapid testing devices were put into service in a number of NWT communities that will deliver presumptive COVID-19 test results to patients in as little as 15 minutes.

The Abbot ID Now point-of-care testing platform has been installed in Hay River, Fort Smith, Norman Wells, Behchoko, Fort Simpson, and Yellowknife.  Plans are in place to also expand to other communities in the coming weeks. These devices allow healthcare providers to deliver on-the-spot testing for COVID-19 and ensure rapid results to support a quick public health response. To ensure the highest levels of accuracy, a second confirmation swab is sent to the laboratory.

In total the NWT has 21 of these devices. These devices can serve several purposes including:

  • Providing preliminary Covid-19 test results in as little as 15 minutes to people with symptoms.
  • Use by rapid response teams if outbreaks occur in a community.
  • Supplementing existing testing capacity in Yellowknife and Inuvik for individuals who would benefit from immediate results.

In addition to providing  preliminary test results to support a rapid public health response, enhanced testing also adds a simple way for residents to do their part in protecting our communities. Anyone with any symptoms of COVID-19 needs to get tested; these new tests make that easier and quicker. Rapid testing, tracing and appropriate isolation of COVID-19 is the best way to protect our families, friends and fellow community members.

Receiving rapid results allows residents to have the convenience of getting back to their regular lives quicker. Residents who haven’t travelled within 14 days or been exposed to COVID-19 can return to regular activities after they receive a negative COVID-19 result, they have no fever and when their other symptoms improve.

An additional point-of-care device, the Abbot Panbio, will be deployed to all community health centres in the NWT by early January.


“Building testing capacity has been a major focus for the NWT health and social services authorities throughout this pandemic. The hard work of staff across the system is paying off as we have a robust and rapid testing regime that further supports the defenses created by NWT’s public health orders.”

- Sue Cullen, Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority

“Getting tested for COVID-19 as soon as you have any symptoms is absolutely crucial. It’s the best way to identify cases, trace contacts, and isolate those at-risk immediately. As we move towards the holidays, with higher chances of any of us being exposed to COVID-19 than ever before, doing your part and getting assessed is what will keep our communities safe, and our territory stable as we finally see glimpses of light at the end of this tunnel.”

- Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories

Quick Facts

  • If you have travelled or been exposed to COVID-19 a negative test result does not reduce required isolation time because it can take up to 14 days for the virus to show up and pass.
  • Each ID Now device can process about 25 tests a day.
  • ID Now devices are operated by trained healthcare staff.
  • ID Now results will be considered presumptive. Both positive and negative results will be confirmed at lab sites at Stanton and Inuvik. In the event of a positive result the individual will be isolated and contact tracing will begin immediately.
  • A second confirmatory swab will be collected from all individuals who receive point-of-care testing.
  • COVID-19 testing is most accurate when individuals have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • From November 13- November 27 the NWT completed 687 covid-19 tests, the mean turnaround time from sample to lab report in the NWT has been 20 hours. Additionally, 80% of specimens were processed in approximately 1.2 days (29 hours).

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Media Contact

David Maguire
Manager, Communications
Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority
TEL: 867-767-9107 ext. 40150
EMAIL: david_maguire@gov.nt.ca