COVID-19 Rapid Testing
Pathology & Laboratory Services
Public Health

Rapid antigen testing is a common tool for Nova Scotians to determine if they have COVID-19, helping to prevent further spread of the virus.

Rapid tests are safe, easy to use, and provide results within 10 to 20 minutes. Rapid tests (also referred to as Point-of-Care Tests) can be done at home by someone who is not a healthcare professional by using the swab in the kit to collect a sample from your throat and each nostril. It is very important to read the instructions carefully for the specific rapid test you are using because there are small differences between different types. Rapid tests can be used for all ages. For advice on conducting a rapid test on a child, view this document developed by the IWK - COVID-19 Rapid Testing: A Guide For Parents And Caregivers (.pdf)

Rapid test instructions

Find instructions below for each type of rapid test. To identify the type of test you have, look at the outside packaging, one of these brands will be on the package.

Nova Scotia Health does not provide rapid test kits or on-site asymptomatic testing for private or public events. For individual access to rapid tests, visit one of the community drop-in locations below.

Community access to rapid tests

Nova Scotia Health provides access to rapid tests in communities across the province. Nova Scotians can pick up rapid test kits at the following drop-in locations. You are encouraged to have a box of rapid tests on hand in case symptoms develop. Tests are limited to one kit per person and supply is based on availability. Most kits have 5 tests in each one. Bulk distribution is not available.

Please do not visit any of these pick-up locations if you are feeling sick. You can ask a family member or friend to pick up a box for you.

Libraries and family resource centres

Public libraries and all family resource centres receive a limited supply of rapid tests to distribute. Regional libraries determine which of their locations will distribute and share information on their websites. Please check the regional websites below to find out if your local library is distributing rapid test kits. Tests are limited to one kit per person and supply is based on availability.

Stay home if you’re sick. If you have symptoms, ask someone else to pick up a test kit for you so that you have some on-hand, or complete the online self assessment to book a test, or call 811.

Annapolis Valley
https://www.valleylibrary.ca/

Cape Breton Regional Library
https://cbrl.ca/

Colchester-East Hants Regional
https://www.lovemylibrary.ca/

Cumberland Public Libraries
https://www.cumberlandpubliclibraries.ca/

Eastern Counties Regional Library
https://ecrl.ca/

Halifax Public Libraries
https://www.halifaxpubliclibraries.ca/

Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library
http://www.parl.ns.ca/

South Shore Public Libraries
https://www.southshorepubliclibraries.ca/

Western County Public Library
https://westerncounties.ca/

 

MLA Offices

Nova Scotians can visit their local MLA’s office during business hours to pick up a box of rapid tests. Tests are limited to one kit per person and supply is based on availability.

Stay home if you’re sick. If you have symptoms, ask someone else to pick up a test kit for you so that you have some on-hand, or complete the online self assessment to book a test, or call 811.

Find Your Local MLA Office

Public Health Mobile Unit

Public Health Mobile Units (PHMU) provide another way for community members to access take-home rapid test kits with or without an appointment, while supplies last. If you require a test because you are experiencing symptoms, you are encouraged to book an appointment to ensure the type of test you need will be available.

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

Those who are using the services of the following organizations will be offered rapid test kits:

Access Nova Scotia

People visiting Access Nova Scotia for in-person services will be offered a package of rapid tests.

Stay home if you’re sick. If you have symptoms, ask someone else to pick up a test kit for you so that you have some on-hand, or complete the online self assessment to book a test, or call 811.

Find Your Local Access Nova Scotia Location

 

Feed Nova Scotia

Anyone accessing programs or services at any of the Feed Nova Scotia’s 140 sites across the province will receive testing kits.

Stay home if you’re sick. If you have symptoms, ask someone else to pick up a test kit for you so that you have some on-hand, or complete the online self assessment to book a test, or call 811.

Find Your Local Food Bank

 

Important Reminders                                    

  • It is important that you follow the instructions for the brand or type of test.
  • We do not provide documentation of your rapid test results. If you require documentation for travel or work-related reasons, please contact a private company. (https://www.nshealth.ca/coronavirus-home/i-need-covid-test-travel)
  • Rapid testing is approved for all ages; for infants and children please adjust the way you use the test for the smaller nostril size as indicated on the testing instructions.
  • A positive rapid test is considered a positive case of COVID-19 – no further testing is required.
  • You may continue to test positive for up to 90 days after your recovery, even though you are no longer infectious. If you begin to experience new or worsening symptoms during this period, follow the instructions here: https://www.nshealth.ca/i-have-covid-19-symptoms

Nova Scotia Health continues to ask anyone who has symptoms to go through the online assessment to book a PCR test (if eligible) or rapid test (https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en).

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.