COVID-19 Testing

Last updated: November 17, 2020

Besoin d’aide en français? Cliquez ici

If you think you should get tested for COVID-19 you will need to complete a COVID-19 self-assessment or call 811 to speak with a nurse to see if there is a need for a test.

If there is a need for a test:

  • you will be directed to an online appointment booking site 
  • 811 staff will book the appointment on your behalf (if you are completing the assessment by phone)
Please book the soonest available appointment. If you are booking for a child (4 to 18), please book an hour or more in advance. This allows for the required one hour without eating, drinking or chewing gum before their appointment, in case they have a gargle test.

Please do not go to a COVID-19 assessment centre without an appointment.

For updated information on Coronavirus visit www.novascotia.ca/coronavirus and www.canada.ca/coronavirus

I have symptoms, how do I know if I need to get tested?

If you think you should get tested for COVID-19 you will need to complete a COVID-19 self-assessment or call 811 to speak with a nurse to see if there is a need for a test.

If there is a need for a test:

  • you will be directed to an online appointment booking site 
  • 811 staff will book the appointment on your behalf (if you are completing the assessment by phone)

Please book the soonest available appointment. If you are booking for a child (4 to 18), please book an hour or more in advance. This allows for the required one hour without eating, drinking or chewing gum before their appointment, in case they have a gargle test.

Please do not go to a COVID-19 assessment centre without an appointment.

If you have been referred for testing, you must self-isolate while awaiting your test and afterward until you have received your result. 

For instructions on how to self-isolate please see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/#testing  

 

How do I request a COVID-19 test for essential work or travel?

If you are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms but require a COVID-19 test for essential travel or work-related travel, Nova Scotia Health has reached an agreement with PRAXES to support COVID-19 testing for essential travel or work-related purposes. You can request a COVID-19 test online at https://praxes.ca/covidtest/

The test will cost $250 plus HST.

PRAXES is authorized to provide COVID-19 testing for:

  • Urgent, work-related travel that requires a negative COVID-19 test before departure
  • Students or migrant workers who require a negative COVID-19 test before returning to their home countries
  • Travel to visit a vulnerable, ill or elderly relative, attend a funeral or for other events on compassionate grounds when required by other provinces or countries

PRAXES is not authorized to provide COVID-19 testing for non-essential travel or business-related purposes including vacations or business travel when virtual meetings are possible.

How do I book a COVID-19 test online?

If it is determined that you need a COVID-19 test, you will be directed to an online appointment booking site or the 811 nurse will book an appointment on your behalf.

If possible, please schedule your appointment so that it’s within 48 hours of your online self-assessment or assessment by 811 via phone. 

Immediately after booking your appointment online, you will receive an email confirmation. This confirmation will include important instructions about your appointment – please read in detail. If you don’t receive this confirmation, please check your “Junk” and “Other Inbox” folders. Look for an email from appointment@nshealth.ca

If you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, you can do that online. Your appointment email will include a link to reschedule or cancel if needed.

An appointment is for one person only. If an additional family member is experiencing symptoms, they must complete their own COVID-19 Self-assessment or call 811. If they are determined to need a test, that appointment must be booked separately.

If you have been referred for testing, you must self-isolate while awaiting your test and afterward until you have received your result. 

For instructions on how to self-isolate please see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/#testing  

Assessment centre locations

Central Nova Scotia (Halifax Regional Municipality, Eastern Shore and West Hants areas)

  • Halifax - Bayers Lake 41 Washmill Lake Drive, 4th Floor DIRECTIONS
  • Halifax - Saint Mary's University - Homburg Centre DIRECTIONS
  • Halifax - Halifax Infirmary DIRECTIONS
  • Middle Musquodoboit - Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Musquodoboit Harbour - Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Sheet Harbour - Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS

Eastern Nova Scotia (Cape Breton, Antigonish and Guysborough areas)

  • Antigonish - St. Martha's Regional Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Baddeck - Victoria County Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Canso - Eastern Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Cheticamp - Sacred Heart Community Health Centre DIRECTIONS
  • Cleveland - Strait Richmond Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Inverness - Inverness Consolidated Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Neil's Harbour - Buchanan Memorial Community Health Centre DIRECTIONS
  • North Sydney - Northside General Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Sydney - Grand Lake Road Fire Hall DIRECTIONS

Northern Nova Scotia (Colchester, Cumberland, Pictou County, and East Hants areas)

  • Amherst - 34 Prince Arthur street DIRECTIONS
  • New Glasgow - Pictou County Assessment Centre 678 East River Road DIRECTIONS
  • Pugwash - North Cumberland Memorial Hospital DIRECTIONS
  • Truro - Colchester East Hants Health Centre Drive-Thru DIRECTIONS
  • Truro - Truro Farmers Market DIRECTIONS

Western Nova Scotia (Annapolis Valley, South West and South Shore areas)

What if I need help arranging transportation to my testing appointment?

You can walk, drive or cycle to your testing appointment. Do not take the bus or ferry.

In some cases Nova Scotia Health can arrange transportation for people who have no other means. If you need help with transportation, please call Nova Scotia Health at 1-844-996-0694 to book your appointment and to arrange transportation. This will allow enhanced cleaning procedures to be put in place by the transportation provider.

How do I prepare my child for a gargle test?

Children or youth between the ages of 4 and 18 years old may be able to have the gargle test if able to:
  • swish salty water in the mouth for 5 seconds, then
  • gargle with the salty water for 5 seconds, and repeat both steps 2 more times (total time of 30 seconds), then
  • spit the salty water into a container
There are steps they need to complete BEFORE having the test. 
 
Children or youth must not: eat, drink, chew gum, brush teeth, smoke or vape for at least one hour before the test. 
 
Younger children do best when they practice the steps at home with water; just make sure if you do choose to have your child practice that it is done at least two hours before the test. 
 
For detailed preparation instructions, please view the gargle instruction sheet (PDF) 
 
It is extremely important that children and youth who are using the gargle testing method follow these guidelines, as failure to do so will require them to have their COVID-19 test via swab collection. 
 
During the procedure, the child and youth must wear their mask while swishing and gargling.
 
Note that if a child or youth does have difficulty completing the gargle test, the test cannot be repeated that day – they would have to be tested via swab collection or rebooked for a gargle test at a later date.

What will happen when I get my COVID-19 test?

  • Those directed to an assessment centre will then have a physical assessment on-site and based on that a swab will be taken for patients when appropriate.
  • A nose swab will be used for infants and young children (under 4 years old) or when a child/youth cannot swish and gargle. 
  • Children between the ages of 4 and 18 may be offered a gargle test. There are steps they need to complete BEFORE having the test. For detailed preparation instructions, please view the gargle instruction sheet (PDF) If for any reason a gargle test isn't suitable for someone, a swab will be provided. Testing centre staff will help advise.
  • You can walk, drive, cycle or take a taxi to your testing appointment. Do not take the bus or ferry.
  • Please bring your confirmation number and health card with you.
  • Please wear a non-medical mask to your testing appointment, whether that appointment is inside an assessment centre or at a drive-through location.
  • Please arrive no more than five minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
  • For drive through services, you must be in a vehicle and wear a non-medical mask. Walk ups are unsafe and therefore, not permitted.
  • Pets are not allowed in either drive through or in any testing site. Service dogs are permitted.  
  • Children and youth (under 19 years old) who are being tested may have one support person. Siblings not permitted without a booked appointment.
  • It is recommended that only the person receiving the COVID-19 test should be in the testing site. 
  • Following your test, you must self-isolate while awaiting your test and afterward until you have received your result. For instructions on how to self-isolate please see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/#testing  

What happens after my COVID-19 test?

Once you have completed your COVID-19 test, you must self-isolate until you have received your result. 

For instructions on how to self-isolate please see https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/symptoms-and-testing/#testing   

How do I receive my results?

If you have a Nova Scotia Health Card (MSI) and provided an email address, you will receive negative results by email. Otherwise, Public Health will call you. 

Please check your “Junk” and “Other Inbox” folders for your negative test results. Look for an email from noreply@nshealth.ca 

If you test positive, you will get a phone call from Public Health who will provide you with further instructions. 

Test results are typically delivered within 24 to 72 hours. However, this may vary.

If 72 hours have passed and you have not received your test results, please call Public Health at 1-844-996-0694 and leave a voicemail with your full name, health card (MSI) number and phone number. Someone will call you back within 48 hours.

Learn more