Like many remote places in Canada, Nunavut continues to face the challenge of receiving Covid-19 test results in a timely fashion. There is a wait time of four to eight days before test results may be received by people in Nunavut.
When asked what is the “single biggest challenge” presently, Nunavut’s top doctor, replied, “diagonostics.” He added, “the only way to get swabs tested is to fly them out to the south to get tested.”
For Nunavummiut, swabs are flown to Winnipeg to be tested at the National Microbiology Laboratory.
“I share everybody’s frustration with it,” said Dr. Michael Patterson, referring to the delayed test results for Covid-19.
On April 15, he assured that a number of individuals across the country are trying to find ways to get diagnostic capacity out to remote communities.
“For many of these products that we’re looking at, there’s worldwide shortages either in the equipment or the supplies,” he added.
In the meantime, “we make do as we can and we look at other strengths or others things that we can do to make up for the lack of diagnostic capacity,” said Patterson.
Currently, the territory has zero cases of the novel coronavirus. However, there are still 212 people, who await their test results. As of April 15, at least 190 people have received their test results.
Testing for Covid-19 in the territory began in mid-February. In general, it has been increasing over the weeks for several reasons.
For several weeks there was a “critical” shortage of swabs, said Patterson. “And so we were very selective and very careful that only people who really met the criteria, including travel, were getting swabbed.”
With an increase in the supply of swabs, those restrictions for testing were lifted.
On April 7, Patterson had signed a medical directive to expand testing to anyone, who exhibits symptoms consistent with Covid-19, whether they were mild or severe.
Patterson explained, the order was put into place, “basically to enable all healthcare providers to test everybody without restrictions.”
Since then, health care staff have been making an effort to swab in each community to ensure that any hidden transmission in the communities is not missed.
“I’m actually happy that the numbers (for Covid-19 testing) are going up because that’s intentional,” said Patterson, during Wednesday’s press conference.
Most recently, “more than 1,000 swabs have been delivered through the National Emergency Stockpile, and more have been ordered,” reported the Department of Health today.
There are still no confirmed plans if and when potential testing devices will be sent to the territory.