COVID-19 Testing: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: May 16, 2021
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Should I get tested for COVID-19?

Complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment or call 811 to speak with a nurse if in the past 48 hours you have had, or you are currently experiencing any of the following symptoms:
  • Fever (i.e. chills/sweats)
  • Cough (new or worsening) 
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
If you don’t have symptoms, you can still complete a COVID-19 Self-assessment and schedule an asymptomatic test.

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.

If you are experiencing any symptoms, you and your entire household are required to isolate until you receive a negative test result.

Directions for self-isolation may vary slightly for each person, based on their personal situation. For instructions on how to self-isolate please see 

Will I receive confirmation of my appointment?

Yes. Immediately after booking your appointment, you will receive an email confirmation from This confirmation will include important instructions about your appointment – please read carefully. 
If you don’t receive this confirmation, please check your “Junk” and “Other Inbox” folders.

What if I need to cancel or reschedule my appointment?

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.
If 811 booked your appointment over the phone, and you need to cancel or reschedule, please contact Nova Scotia Health at 1-844-996-0694 and follow the instructions.

Can my family member be tested at the same time?

No. An appointment is for one person only. Additional family members must complete their own COVID-19 Self-assessment or call 811.

Can I take public transit 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.

What do I need to bring with me?

Please bring your confirmation number and health card with you, along with a non-medical mask to wear and a provincial health card, student ID or military ID, if you have one.

Do I have to wear a mask during my appointment?

Yes. Please wear a non-medical mask to your testing appointment, whether that appointment is inside an assessment centre or at a drive-through location.

How early should I arrive for my appointment?

Please arrive no more than five minutes before your scheduled appointment time.

Can I walk up to a drive-through clinic to be tested?

For drive-through services, you must be in a vehicle and wear a non-medical mask. Walk-ups are unsafe and, therefore, not permitted.

Can I bring my pet with me? 

Pets are not allowed in any testing site, including drive-through. Service dogs are permitted. 

Can I bring a support person to my appointment with me?

It is recommended that only the person receiving the COVID-19 test should be in the testing site. Children and youth (under 19 years old) who are being tested may have one support person. Siblings not permitted without a booked appointment.

My child is being tested. What do I need to know?

  • 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.

How and when will I receive my COVID test results?

When Nova Scotians come for their testing appointment at a COVID-19 primary assessment centre or mobile testing unit, they will be asked at registration for their email and/or phone number, as well as a health card or identification number.
Results sent by e-mail require the person to have a valid Nova Scotia health card (MSI).

Results sent by auto-call can be provided to those with any valid provincial health card, or a student or military identification number.

In most cases, Nova Scotians will receive their test result within 72 hours.

Nova Scotians who have been tested should have their health card or identification number ready. They will be asked to enter the last four numbers to receive their result. Email results may be received 24 hours a day. Please check your “Junk” and “Other Inbox” folders for your negative test results. Look for an email from

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 will indicate unknown name, unknown number; please answer those calls. Please also have your health card or identification ready.
If a patient cannot be reached after receiving an email and two auto-calls, they will contacted by staff from Public Health or Service Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia Health has partnered with Service Nova Scotia to help deliver negative test results.
Staff will also phone those who do not have a valid provincial health card or student/military identification.

Receiving a phone call does not automatically mean your test result was positive.

Public Health will continue to make calls to those who test positive and will provide any additional instruction needed.

If 72 hours have passed and you have not received your test results by email or phone, 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.