Nova Scotia

Rapid test kits in high demand at N.S. public libraries

The province says libraries will only be restocked once and it may take up to a week because of a limited supply of tests available.

Province says libraries will only be restocked once and it may take up to a week

A sign shows rapid test kits were temporarily unavailable at the Halifax Central Library on Tuesday. More tests were expected to arrive at the library later in the day. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Free COVID-19 rapid test kits are proving popular at public libraries in Halifax — so much so some have run out of tests.

The province announced Tuesday afternoon the libraries that ran out of kits will only be restocked once because there is only a limited number available, and it could take up to a week.

The province suggested contacting the library or checking a library's social media account before picking up a test kit.

"The response from the public has been overwhelming," said Kathleen Peverill, a manager with Halifax Public Libraries.

The Halifax Central Library ran out of its supply of 1,100 test kits by 7:30 p.m. Monday. A total of 10,000 kits were given out Monday across all Halifax branches.

The province announced on Monday that 80,000 kits, each containing five tests, were available across the 80 library sites across Nova Scotia.

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There is a limit of one kit per person. The province suggests only one or two people from the same household should get a kit. In a tweet, the province stated, "Nobody should take more than they need."

Peverill said more test kits should be available at the library soon. She said the public has been patient and understanding with the roll out.

'It's the holiday season so it makes sense'

"It's so important, especially during the holiday season. We all want to protect our friends and families and this is a great way to get the test out in the hands of our community," Peverill said.

Rapid test kits are proving popular at other library locations.

CBC News has learned the Colchester East Hants Public Library (Elmsdale branch), the Tantallon Public Library and the Alderney Gate Public Library ran out of rapid test kits on Tuesday.

Matthew Williamson stopped in the Halifax Central Public Library to get a rapid test kit on Tuesday.

"It's the holiday season so it makes sense to be testing yourself before going out with family and, if they're freely available, why not?" he said.

Williamson said he thinks having the rapid tests available is a good thing "as they're accurate and telling people accurate information."

Positive rapid test? Here's what to do next

Nova Scotia Public Health is requesting anyone who tested positive on a rapid test to self-isolate and book a PCR test for COVID-19.

While waiting for PCR test results, the province wants people to gather information on recent whereabouts and the people they may have exposed in the past 48 hours, or when their symptoms began.

This includes anyone with whom they spent 15 minutes or more in close proximity indoors — closer than two metres and regardless of masking — or someone they may care for in their home, or anyone with whom they shared dishes.

Close contacts do not need to be notified until a lab-confirmed test comes back positive.

"We're asking them to hold on to that information while they await their positive lab-confirmed test," said Marcia DeSantis, public health director at Nova Scotia Health.

"If they're positive on their lab-confirmed PCR test, we're asking them now to please start to notify their close contacts and have the close contacts visit our website where we have lots of information about what we're asking them to do.

Lab-confirmed testing

Once notified, close contacts should also self-isolate and book a PCR test.

People with confirmed positive cases from a PCR test must isolate for 10 days to get through their infectious period. Those with a negative test result do not need to self isolate, but should continue to monitor for signs and symptoms.

"What we're seeing now is people are getting sick relatively quickly once they've been infected. Thankfully, it's mild symptoms, but that's why there's that 72-hour period to get the results of the first test," DeSantis said.

Other ways to get tested for COVID-19 include:

With files from Jack Julian