Nova Scotia

COVID-19 results delayed after N.S. health staff overwhelmed by jump in tests

Some Nova Scotians are waiting longer for their COVID-19 test results after the health authority says a jump in test results left staff scrambling to enter the data.

There were 20,103 COVID-19 tests performed in the past week alone

Nova Scotia Health said Wednesday that COVID-19 test results are being delayed after staff were overwhelmed by a jump in tests. (Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

Some Nova Scotians are waiting longer for their COVID-19 results after the health authority says a jump in tests left staff scrambling to enter the data. 

Nova Scotia Health said earlier this week they were noticing a delay in some results getting through to people via email.

Spokesperson Carla Adams said Tuesday the problem was initially attributed to an IT system issue. 

"However, upon further investigation, it's been determined it was instead related to a significant increase in the volume of tests," she said in an email.

Adams later clarified that their email system has in fact been working fine, but it is now taking longer for staff to physically enter those results, which are then sent out electronically.

The delays are actually not about technology at all, but instead people being "really busy," Adams said Wednesday.

Nova Scotia Health has performed 20,103 COVID-19 tests in the past week. Of those, 4,138 were performed Monday — "the busiest day yet," said Adams.

Adams said the health authority continues to work on providing results as quickly as possible.

"We recognize that long waits for test results can have a negative impact, including on a person's ability to work or go to school," Adams said.

"For those who have had to wait longer than expected for test results, Nova Scotia Health is sorry and thanks you for your patience and understanding."

Rapid COVID-19 tests are conducted at Dalhousie University in Halifax on Nov. 24, 2020. (Robert Short/CBC)

In certain cases, people who've had a COVID-19 test are asked to self-isolate until they get their results. 

Nova Scotia reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the province's total active cases to 142.

Anyone who has waited more than 72 hours for their test results, not including rapid tests, are asked to call Public Health at 1-844-996-0694 and leave a voicemail.

People are asked to leave their full name, health card number and phone number. Public Health staff will try calling twice.

Public Health has urged anyone who's been at any of the dozens of recent exposure sites to book a COVID-19 test. Those who've been in a bar or restaurant past 10 p.m. AT in recent weeks, or worked in one, are also asked to get a rapid test.