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I went to a COVID-19 rapid testing site in HRM. Here’s what happened.

The pop-up site is meant to reach people without symptoms

4 min read
caption People are about to get inside the first rapid COVID-19 testing site in Halifax.

On the day Nova Scotia announced 37 new cases of COVID-19, a rapid testing site popped up at Dalhousie University.

I work part-time at the Halifax Shopping Centre, where there were four different exposure sites last week alone. So, I decided to go to the testing site on Morris Street to find out if I have the virus.

The idea of the rapid testing site is to uncover anyone who is asymptomatic. A pilot project was held Saturday night in downtown Halifax. The goal was to see if the service should be offered more widely.

The rapid test will tell you immediately if you are positive or negative, says Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health.

“It is not good enough to predict if they are going to stay negative, but it is part of our approach to continue to use testing as an important tool here in Halifax,” he said Tuesday at a news conference.

caption People wait in line at the rapid testing site on Morris Street in downtown Halifax on Tuesday.
Kheira Morellon

When you go to a rapid testing site no appointment is necessary. I arrived at about 4 p.m. and the lineup wrapped around the block. After a couple of minutes standing in line, there were already a dozen people behind me. A volunteer came around regularly to let people know the approximate wait time. At first I was told it would be four hours, but that quickly dropped to two.

Before entering the building, the volunteer repeated multiple times that this testing site was not for people who have been experiencing any symptoms or who had been contacted by Public Health. Those people are supposed to call 811 and follow the process of booking a time for a test.

Once inside the building the whole process took no longer than 10 to 15 minutes. I first had to answer the usual COVID-19 questions, including whether I’ve been outside the Atlantic bubble in the last 14 days. Then I was directed to the next doctor available. I was given the option to stand up or sit down for the test. I didn’t expect to faint, but having seen how far that swab goes into someone’s nose, sitting felt safer.

The doctor who did my swab was very friendly and encouraging. When I told her it was my first time getting tested, she told me it wasn’t that bad. Getting swabbed was a very uncomfortable feeling. It wasn’t painful, but it made me consider all of the nerve endings I have in my nose. Too many.

caption Inside the rapid testing site at 5257 Morris St.
Kheira Morellon

I was asked for my phone number so they could contact me to let me know my results. Normally you get the results back in 15 minutes. On Tuesday, because they didn’t expect as many people, the doctor who did my test warned me it would take a couple of hours. 

I left around 6:30 p.m. I got my test result at 7:33 p.m. when I was at home. It said I was negative.

caption The text message received by people who have a negative test result.
Kheira Morellon

If the results had come in positive I would have been asked to self-isolate and get a second test at one of the usual testing facilities.

The rapid testing site will be back at 5257 Morris St. on Wednesday, from 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. When I made my way there I knew I was going to wait outside, but I should have been better dressed for the weather. If you are going to the site, dress warmly and be prepared for a lineup.

Nova Scotia Health is preparing to launch more rapid testing sites in the next couple of weeks.


Anyone with one of the following symptoms should call 811 or visit the self-assessment website:

  • Cough, or worsening of an existing cough
  • Fever

Anyone with two of the following symptoms is asked to visit the self-assessment website or call 811:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose

To find the full list of possible exposure sites to COVID-19 check the province’s alert page.

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About the author

Kheira Morellon

Kheira is a french immigrant currently living in Halifax. She is passionate about languages and is looking to bring more coverage to the Franco-Canadian...

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  1. K


    How do you find out where and when the pop up testing are being done?
    • K

      Kheira Morellon

      Here are the Twitter accounts you might want to follow: They announce evert morning where the testing site will be. Today (Nov.27) is going to be in Alderney Gate Public Library, 60 Alderney Drive, Dartmouth 1:30-8pm.
    • A


      Wondering the same thing.
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