I need a test for
Rapid Test Instructions and
Book a COVID-19 Test Appointment
(rapid test pick up or PCR test)
COVID-19 testing is available for all Nova Scotians who have symptoms. For the following people, testing is strongly recommended:
- 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.
All Nova Scotians qualify for rapid antigen testing, while those at increased risk of severe illness, or who meet other criteria listed in the Frequently Asked Questions section below, also qualify for PCR testing. Book a test online, or call 811 if you need assistance.
If you use rapid 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 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 test positive for COVID-19, please visit nshealth.ca/testedpositiveforcovid for more information on what to do next:
Please complete the Report and Support form when you book a PCR test or have a positive rapid test. The form can be completed online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772, if you require assistance. Please note: COVID-19 treatments do not benefit everyone. You will only be contacted if you qualify for medication or follow-up. If you do not qualify, you will not be called.
Protect Yourself and Others
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, other things you can do 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 Frequently Asked Questions
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 group living settings:
- Long-term care home
- Residential care facilities
- 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 (Body Mass Index >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 (Body Mass Index >30kg/m2)
- People 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
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- 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 (body mass index equal to or greater than 30)
What if I need help arranging transportation to or can't get into the testing appointment?
In some cases Nova Scotia Health can arrange transportation. 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 they qualify for PCR and are 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
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.
What happens after my COVID-19 test?
For people with symptoms: Stay home when sick, avoid higher risk people and places, 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 people and places, and wear a mask when away from home.
How do I receive my PCR test results?
When people come for their testing appointment, they will be asked at registration for their email and phone number, as well as a health card or student identification number. Please see below if you don’t have a health card or student card – you are still able to get a test and received your results.
If you have a valid provincial health card, you’ll be able to receive your results in the following ways:
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 email@example.com.
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 health card or student ID, please call 1-844-996-0694 at least 48 hours after your test. You will be asked to leave your name, phone number, date of birth and date you were tested. A member of our Public Health team will contact you with your results.
In most cases, Nova Scotians will receive their test result within 48-72 hours. If you have been waiting for COVID-19 PCR test results for more than 48 hours please call Public Health at 1-844-996-0694.
Those who have been tested should have their health card (any province except Ontario) or identification number ready. They will be asked to enter the last four digits to receive their result. People with an Ontario health card should enter the last four numbers that appear before the letters on their card.