COVID-19 Testing

   I need a test for
travel purposes
 

 Rapid Test Instructions and
Community Access
       

Book a COVID-19 Test Appointment

(rapid test pick up or PCR test)

Testing is recommended for:
  • People and communities at higher risk of severe disease.
  • People who live and work in higher-risk group living settings (such as long-term care homes, shelters, group homes, correctional facilities).
  • Frontline health care workers.

Testing is available for all Nova Scotians who have symptoms.

Most Nova Scotians qualify for rapid antigen testing, while those at increased risk of severe illness, or who meet other criteria listed in the FAQ below, qualify for PCR testing.

To determine if you require a PCR or rapid test complete the online assessment or call 811.

Please note If you test positive on a rapid test and/or if you have booked a PCR testing appointment, complete the Report and Support screening form as accurately as possible or call 1-833-797-7772 if you require assistance completing the form.

The Report and Support screening form will collect information to: 

  • help quickly identify people within 5-7 days of testing positive who are eligible for and may benefit from COVID-19 medications and treatments to reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization, and
  • help identify people as part of a priority group that might be at risk of severe illness for Public Health follow-up. 

COVID-19 treatments do not benefit everyone. Please note, you will only be contacted if you qualify for medication or Public Health follow-up. If you do not qualify, you will not be called.

Learn more at https://www.nshealth.ca/reportandsupport.

If you test positive for COVID-19, please visit this page for more information on what to do next: nshealth.ca/testedpositiveforcovid

How to get tested?

If you use rapid antigen tests you should have 2 negative tests 48 hours (2 days) apart to be considered negative for COVID-19. Those who have symptoms should follow the testing instructions here.

If you are at risk of severe disease, or meet the criteria for PCR testing below, it is recommended to get a PCR (lab) test as soon as you can. This is important because you may be eligible for early treatment to prevent severe disease if you test positive.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, other precautions you can take to help protect yourself and others include staying home if you’re sick and wearing a mask if you go out, practicing good hand hygiene, physical distancing when possible, and carefully choosing your activities and social groups. Visit How to Protect Myself and Others for more helpful tips.

COVID-19 Testing FAQs

Am I eligible for a PCR test?

The following groups are eligible for PCR testing in Nova Scotia.

1. People who have symptoms AND are one of the following:

  • 50 years and over
  • Unvaccinated (less than full vaccine series) and age 12 or older
  • Live or work in the following congregate settings:
    • Long-term care home
    • Residential care facilities
    • Corrections
    • Shelters and transition houses
    • Acute care settings
    • Entering a Disability Support Program facility
  • First Nations 
  • African Nova Scotians (18 and over)
  • Front line and community Health Care Workers with direct patient care and First Responders.  Frontline and community healthcare workers who work directly with patients include: doctors, nurses, paramedics, other hospital employees and continuing care assistants who provide direct patient care, dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants and denturists, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants. Please bring your staff ID to your testing appointment.
  • Adults 18-49 year with one or more risk factors for severe disease:
    • Obesity (BMI >30 kg/m2)
    • Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus     
    • Chronic lung disease, including poorly controlled asthma (e.g. on medication or hospitalization within the past 12 months)
    • Chronic kidney disease, including those on dialysis
    • Down Syndrome
    • Motor Neuron Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Huntington’s Disease
    • Immunocompromised or receiving immunosuppressive therapy
  • Children and youth under age 18 with any of the following conditions:
    • History of prematurity < 29 weeks
    • Chronic lung disease including chronic lung disease of prematurity, cystic fibrosis, and severe asthma
    • Down Syndrome
    • Motor Neuron Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis
    • Obesity (BMI >30kg/m2)
  • Pregnant
  • Individuals who cannot perform a rapid test at home and require help due to a developmental, intellectual or physical disability.

2. Testing required for medical procedure

Who is considered high risk?

The evidence around individuals who are most at risk for severe disease continues to evolve, and this list may be updated as evidence unfolds. The greatest single risk factor for severe disease is advanced age. Individuals who have certain medical conditions, especially if they have multiple medical conditions, are also at increased risk. Healthy children are not at increased risk for severe disease.

The following people, particularly if unvaccinated or vaccinated but not boosted, are at increased risk of severe disease:

  • Older adults (increasing risk with each decade, especially over 60 years)
  • Pregnant persons
  • Any age and living with:
    • lung disease
    • heart disease
    • diabetes
    • kidney disease
    • liver disease
    • dementia
    • cancer
    • neurodevelopmental conditions (such as Down Syndrome)
    • sickle cell disease
    • neurological conditions (e.g., epilepsy, stroke)
    • immunocompromised status, including those taking medications which lower the immune system, such as chemotherapy
    • obesity (BMI equal to or greater than 30)

What if I need help arranging transportation to or can't get into the testing appointment?

If you have symptoms and are getting tested you can walk, drive or cycle, or take public transit to your testing appointment. You are encouraged to wear a mask in indoor public spaces.

In some cases Nova Scotia Health can arrange transportation, testing in the parking lot of the testing centre for people who have no other means. If you need help with this, please call Nova Scotia Health at 1-844-996-0694 to book your appointment. Nova Scotia Health will work with you to reduce the barriers for testing. 

 

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 happens after my COVID-19 test?

For people with symptoms: Stay home when sick, avoid higher risk settings and individuals, and wear a mask when in indoor public places even if mild cold- or flu-like (respiratory) symptoms.

For people who test positive for COVID-19: Follow the directions for those who test positive on this webpage. For the 7 days after symptoms start or you test positive (if no symptoms), avoid high-risk settings and individuals, and mask when away from home.

How do I receive my results?

When individuals come for their testing appointment at a COVID-19 testing centre or mobile testing unit, they will be asked at registration for their email and phone number, as well as a health card or student identification number.

If you have a valid provincial health card, you’ll be able to receive your results in the following ways:

E-mail auto-notifications

Email results may be received 24 hours a day. Please check your “Junk” and “Other Inbox” folders for your test results. Look for an email from noreply@nshealth.ca.

Auto-call notifications

Auto-calls may occur daily between noon and 5 p.m. It’s important that people keep their phones with them and on if they are expecting a test result. The caller ID may indicate unknown name, unknown number or a long-distance/out-of-province number; please answer those calls.

Online at https://c19results.nshealth.ca/

If you do not have a provincial health card or a student ID, you will receive a phone call from Public Health.

In most cases, Nova Scotians will receive their test result within 24-72 hours. If you have been waiting for COVID-19 PCR test results for more than 72 hours please call Public Health at 1-844-996-0694.

Nova Scotians who have been tested should have their health card or identification number ready. They will be asked to enter the last four digits to receive their result. Those with an Ontario health card should enter the last four numbers that appear before the letters on their card.

Learn more