Since opening on Monday, the drive-through COVID-19 test clinic has collected about 100 swabs from the public.

“The people that I was able to swab myself have been really receptive to the idea of being able to have their symptoms assessed and get the swab from the safety of their car. I think it’s been really well-received,” as Jenna Long, a registered nurse with the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) told NNSL Media.

The clinic had its soft launch on Monday when it was accepting referrals from the emergency room, the clinics and from Public Health. It opened to the public on Tuesday.

Nurses speak with a visitor at the COVID-19 drive-through clinic on Wednesday. Blair McBride/NNSL photo

More visitors have been coming since then as more people become aware of what symptoms to watch for, Long said.

Located in the parking lot just off 47th Street behind the Primary Care Centre, a few vehicles were seen going into the white tent where nurses went through assessments with the drivers.

Pre-swab assessment

“Before the swab they’re assessed by a nurse and asked screening criteria questions around symptoms they’re experiencing. Based on the responses it’s determined whether or not they qualify for a swab,” Long said.

“Right now we’re using as criteria fever or cough or shortness of breath, regardless of travel history.”

Long emphasized that visitors would be tested if they satisfy any one of the symptoms and people with no symptoms shouldn’t come.

“The swab is collected from the comfort of their own vehicle, the idea being that we’re increasing accessibility and decreasing the risk of transmission by keeping people outside of our facilities if possible. Then they’re given the self-isolation and symptoms monitoring information package.”

Follow-ups becoming more thorough

Everyone is contacted later, regardless of the test result with further instructions on next steps in case they have to self-isolate or seek further medical attention. Swabs are sent to a laboratory in Alberta. It can take up to one week to get back the result, according to the Department of Health and Social Services.

If anyone is flagged as needing a more thorough assessment and needs to be seen by a doctor they’re taken inside to “Pod B” of the Primary Care Clinic. “Pod A” is still offering primary care services, said Long.

Yellowknifers who don’t drive and who want to be tested can call Public Health at (867) 767-9120 to book an appointment at Pod B. But Long said they wouldn’t turn away people who walk up to the drive-through tent.

The drive-through is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As of Wednesday morning there is one positive case of COVID-19 in NWT, with at least 533 tests conducted and 209 tests pending.

Blair McBride

Blair McBride covers the Legislative Assembly, business and education. Before coming to Yellowknife he worked as a journalist in British Columbia, Thailand and Ontario. He studied journalism at Western...

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