After nearly two months, Nova Scotia will resume confirmation PCR testing for those who test positive for COVID-19 on a rapid antigen test.
Nova Scotia ended confirmation PCR testing at the end of December due to “the extremely high testing demands on the lab” as case counts exploded thanks to the Omicron variant.
Because of a limited supply of PCR tests, the province at the time told residents that those who test positive using a rapid test should assume they’re positive and inform Public Health of their test result through email.
Yet on Thursday, the province said it continues to see a decline in new COVID-19 cases, and thus a lower number of PCR tests being performed.
“As a result, Nova Scotia Health’s microbiology lab now has the capacity to resume confirmation PCR testing for those who test positive on a COVID-19 rapid antigen test,” it said in a release.
Those who test positive on a rapid antigen test can choose either to self-isolate as a positive case or get a confirmation PCR test.
“If the confirmation PCR test is negative, they are not required to isolate and can resume normal activities (as long as they have no symptoms or once their symptoms are improving and they have no fever for at least 24 hours),” the release said.
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“If their confirmation PCR test is positive, they are required to isolate as per Public Health guidelines.”
The province said the option to have a confirmation PCR test “will reduce situations in which people are isolating when they don’t need to.”
It said the change will likely result in a higher number of reported cases since case numbers are based on PCR tests rather than rapid tests.
“This increase should be considered a more accurate picture of reported cases in Nova Scotia, rather than a reflection of a new surge of COVID-19 cases,” it said.