Province continues roll out of pop-up COVID-19 testing centres throughout Halifax

Click to play video: 'Dr. Robert Strang talks new restrictions, stress of the job with Global News Morning'
Dr. Robert Strang talks new restrictions, stress of the job with Global News Morning
WATCH: We check in with Dr. Robert Strang after the province announced new restrictions due to a spike in cases of COVID-19 in Halifax. – Nov 25, 2020

Nova Scotia is continuing its roll out of a series of pop-up COVID-19 testing centres in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Testing on Dalhousie University’s Sexton Campus continued on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., after hundreds turned out to receive free tests Tuesday.

“We don’t know how much community virus we have unless we measure it in people without symptoms because you can really have this virus and infection a lot of the time without having any symptoms at all,” said Dr. Lisa Barrett an infectious disease specialist at Dalhousie University.

“What we’ve been doing here is testing people with no symptoms with rapid test and training people who aren’t health care professionals to do those test for us.”

The goal, Barrett explained, is to have a way to do broad testing that does not overwhelm the province’s health care system.

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The first of the pop-up centres was held this past weekend at The Dome, a nightclub in downtown Halifax, which has been unable to operate as a result of COVID-19 gathering restrictions. About 150 tests were done on Saturday, with most being staff or patrons of downtown bars or restaurants.

Graeme Benjamin/Global News

Haligonians line up for a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus at 5257 Morris St. on Nov. 24, 2020.On Tuesday, what started out as a trickle of people quickly turned into a line that began at the Richard Murray Design Building on Morris Street and ended near the Halifax Central Library.

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The testing at the Dalhousie Campus was not for students experiencing symptoms.

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Instead, the province is targeting Haligonians between the ages of 18 and 35 — a demographic which has seen a recent spike in cases, according to health officials.

“We’re starting here in HRM first because we have the most cases in general and it’s likely our general community has more virus than other places, but we rapidly hope to expand this out to almost anyone in the adult range,” said Barrett.

Haligonians wanting to be tested should have no symptoms and should not have been at one of the places on the province’s list of potential exposure sites.

At least two Dalhousie University students have tested positive for the virus, but the University hasn’t updated that number since Sunday.  Global News has reached out for comment.

On Tuesday, Saint Mary’s University reported that a student had tested positive.

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Coronavirus: Nova Scotia introduces tighter restrictions, stronger enforcement for rule-breakers

The testing at The Dome resulted in one positive case among patrons.

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More than 600 people were tested at the pop-up centre on Tuesday.

One person did test positive and is now self-isolating as they work with the province’s public health unit to trace contacts.

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, told media on Tuesday that Haligonians should expect more pop-up locations this week.

“It’s part of our approach to continue to use testing as an important tool here in Halifax. So we are along with all the restrictions, we are making substantive investments to urgently ramp up testing for this population,” said Strang, at a provincial update.

–With files from Global News’ Graeme Benjamin and Alicia Draus

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