Thursday, May 6, 2021

How labs in Nova Scotia are coping with a COVID-19 testing backlog

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Mike Specter
What's there to say about me, blogging is my passion, but that goes without saying, i love football and i won't turn down an invitation for a drink. Make that Tequila and you have my undivided attention! How ironic lol I enjoy reading and occasional golf


Dr. Todd Hatchette knew one thing needed to give the day 22,000 specimens arrived for COVID-19 testing.

“Momentary surges are manageable, however lab capability can’t be elevated on the flip of a swap,” he mentioned.

Hatchette, the service chief for microbiology within the central zone of Nova Scotia’s well being authority, advised CBC Information by way of e mail {that a} small backlog within the microbiology labs is typical. It is the rationale Nova Scotians are suggested that their outcomes may not be prepared for as much as 72 hours.

However that 22,000-specimen day, which got here this previous week, set issues too far behind.

“That spike, and the potential these volumes may proceed, led to the choice to refocus testing,” Hatchette mentioned.

Dr. Todd Hatchette is proven on the first fast testing web site in Nova Scotia final November. It was held at a vacant nightclub in Halifax. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

By the point Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of well being, alerted the general public on Friday, 45,000 swabs have been ready within the queue. Including to the unhealthy information, Strang mentioned a lot of these would probably develop into optimistic. 

Now, lab testing is restricted to those that have COVID-19 signs or who’ve been advised to get a take a look at due to journey, potential publicity, shut contact or upcoming surgical procedure.

Asymptomatic Nova Scotians who simply need to be certain they don’t seem to be carrying the virus are being directed to fast testing websites.

New instrument coming

Every day lab capability began at about 200 assessments final March and tripled inside a month. It grew to about 5,000 through the pandemic’s second wave after which to fifteen,000 simply final week. Greater than 16,500 assessments have been processed Friday.

Hatchette mentioned a further testing instrument is en path to Nova Scotia to assist additional improve testing capability.

Within the meantime, some specimens could possibly be frozen till they are often processed. Hatchette mentioned assessments are usually saved in a fridge, the place they’re good for 3 days.

Fast testing grew to become a key a part of Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 response through the second wave of the pandemic final fall. (Robert Brief/CBC)

Some swabs are being prioritized in the event that they require a fast turnaround time. A well being authority spokesperson mentioned these embrace assessments from outbreaks and long-term care settings, in-patients and pre-operative sufferers.

Fast testing ramping as much as fill within the hole

Nova Scotia is exclusive in providing asymptomatic testing to anybody who needs it. Most Canadian provinces restrict testing entry to those that are displaying signs, have been uncovered to a confirmed case or meet another particular standards.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious illness specialist at Dalhousie College in Halifax, mentioned Nova Scotia’s broad testing strategy has been a necessary a part of retaining COVID-19 underneath management on this province. If the technique might be saved up, it may forestall hospitals from turning into overwhelmed on this third wave, she mentioned.

“If we are able to maintain the early detection system going … then we now have the flexibility hopefully to not find yourself like Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario with our ICUs full and kids’s hospitals housing grownup sufferers as a result of we’re overwhelmed,” she mentioned in an interview.

Dr. Lisa Barrett, an infectious illness specialist at Dalhousie College in Halifax, has been a champion of widespread, asymptomatic testing to catch and isolate instances of COVID-19 early. (CBC)

Barrett, who has been one of many lead organizers in Nova Scotia’s fast and pop-up testing operations, mentioned extra testing choices are more likely to turn into obtainable within the coming days for many who are actually being discouraged from searching for lab assessments.

“Are there going to be lineups? Sure, there are…. [But] I do assume we’ll be capable of sustain,” she mentioned.

Barrett mentioned it was unlucky that on Saturday, the traces have been quick at fast testing websites. She thinks persons are involved about overwhelming the system, main some to keep away.

“That is not what we would like individuals to do. We simply need you to go to the pop-up websites for a short while whereas we reorient the opposite websites. So hopefully, truly, individuals do come to overwhelm us a bit of bit on the pop-up websites.”


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