Rapid Covid-19 Testing Now Available in All NWT Communities

(Yellowknife – December 22, 2020) – Starting immediately all NWT communities have access to rapid COVID-19 testing that can deliver preliminary results to patients in as little as 15 minutes.

This milestone has been achieved by implementing a variety of testing technologies including the PanBio and IDNow point-of-care testing systems and the lab based testing that has been available in Yellowknife and Inuvik since October.

The newest development includes distribution of PanBio testing kits and addition of IDNow devices in Fort Providence, Fort Liard, Lutsel’ke and Fort Resolution. The PanBio device allows for testing to be completed with a simple point of care device that delivers a result similar to an over-the-counter pregnancy test. Use of these devices is limited to symptomatic individuals.

All PanBio and IDNow tests will require confirmatory testing at a lab site, most confirmatory results are available within 24-48 hours. Any positive results will be treated as a presumptive positive with isolation and contact tracing undertaken immediately.

These developments in testing add yet another tool to ensure the safety of NWT residents and will ensure we can rapidly identify, isolate, and trace COVID-19 in our territory. Coupled with the continued diligence of NWT residents in following public health orders this testing regime will be an integral part of the COVID-19 response going forward.

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.



“Getting point-of-care tests into every community across our territory has long been our objective. Being able to receive a preliminary test result so quickly aligns with our system-wide goal of providing the best care to NWT residents. The efforts of staff across the system to make this a reality are to be commended.”

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


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.
  • Previously IDNow was rolled out in Behchoko, Hay River, Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson and Norman Wells.
  • Each ID Now device can process about 25 tests a day.
  • Results for both IDNow and PanBio 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.
  • Both the PanBio and IDNow devices require a nurse or physician to administer the test. In communities with health cabins where these staff are only available on a rotating basis, when no nurse or physician is in the community a Community Health Worker may take a throat swab that can be sent to Stanton or Inuvik for processing.
  • 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.
  • Between November 27 and December 11, the average turnaround time for COVID-19 testing across the NWT has been less than 1 day (19 hours). 80 percent of specimens were processed in just over 1 day (24.5 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