Houston: COVID-19 testing at airports is overdue

As Maritimers continue their hard work to fend off COVID-19, their government has been slow to implement much-needed changes to keep us safe. The McNeil Liberal government has struggled with expanding Nova Scotia’s testing capacity, and our testing rate remains amongst the lowest in Canada.

PC Leader Tim Houston says that if Public Health is building testing capacity, testing should be made available immediately at airports.

“Testing negative when you get off a plane doesn't mean you are COVID-free,” says Houston. “But a positive test ensures we keep better track of the virus entering the province.”

Last month, the government announced that it was increasing testing capacity to reach a goal of being able to process 2,500 tests per day by mid-November. Still, Nova Scotia is testing at the second-lowest per-capita basis in Canada, only marginally ahead of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Since October, the province has averaged 561 tests per day. Most new cases are a result of travel outside the Atlantic Bubble, and Public Health advisories for flight exposures have been issued on several occasions over the past few months.

“If the province has the extra testing capacity, then there is no reason why they should not be testing at airports,” says Houston. “Point of entry testing is the logical next step for tracking the virus and preventing its spread in our province.”

Houston stresses that we should use our resources appropriately, and that means adjusting as situations require.

“Alberta and Ontario are already piloting rapid testing at airports, all while struggling with widespread community transmission of the virus,” says Houston. “We were the last province to adopt the COVID Alert app, let’s not be last on airport testing as well.”