A team of infectious disease experts and community volunteers banded together Monday to set up a COVID-19 rapid pop-up testing site in Wolfville, N.S., after the town sent out a release Friday saying that traces of the coronavirus were detected in the town’s wastewater.
Dalhousie University infectious disease expert Dr. Lisa Barrett said there was no correlation between the COVID-19 pop-up testing site and the wastewater test results.
“We’re starting to go out across the rest of the province and we want to get an idea of how much virus is in any community,” said Barrett.
Fredericton-based company LuminUltra Technologies Ltd. has teamed with Acadia University and Dalhousie University to test wastewater for traces of COVID-19 and Wolfville’s municipal wastewater system is part of that research.
Their goal is to determine the best way to test the wastewater coming from homes and businesses for traces of COVID-19. Wolfville’s municipal wastewater system is part of that research.
The town of Wolfville, in its release, said the research is still considered experimental and not definitive but it could signal COVID-19 is present in the community.
“It indicates what we know,” said Wolfville mayor Wendy Donovan. “We know the virus is around and we might not be aware of it.”
Throngs of people lined up to get a rapid test and several people showed up hours early to reserve a spot, like Rosalind House Cross who was first in line.
“I thought I am doing a disservice to the rest of the world if I am someone who has the virus and is not having the courage to go and find out,” said House Cross.
The rapid testing pop-up sites are for asymptomatic individuals aged 16 and up. It gives individuals their results right away and you can be notified by a text message.
Wolfville’s population doubles during the academic year and many in line Monday were students like Lauren Ottewell, who was eager to get a test.
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“I just wanted to make sure I was safe,” said Ottwell.
“I’m a resident at Acadia. I just thought it would be the best decision to make not only for myself but for everyone around me.”
With the emergence of the second wave of COVID-19 and indications of community spread in Nova Scotia, expect to see a lot more rapid pop-up testing, says Barrett.
“This a tool for us to engage people in what’s likely to become COVID life,” said Barrett. “The pop-up nature means that we’re never quite sure where we’ll be in a couple of days, we follow the virus or the virus follows us sometimes.”
A rapid testing site will pop up in Wolfville again on Tuesday. The specific location has yet to be determined.