Nova Scotia, which has been praised by international experts for its handling of the pandemic, has implemented widespread testing that is accessible to everyone. Since November last year, public health officials have also rolled out rapid tests at various sites across the province that promise results in about half an hour without the need to make an appointment.
As I watched the number of cases start to rise at the end of April, I heard calls from Chief Medical Officer Robert Strang and Premier Iain Rankin: Go get tested. It was an enjoyable day downtown as I, along with many other Haligonians, lined the sidewalks outside the Halifax Convention Center. At first glance, the line seemed long, but it wasn’t long before I was inside and washed.
The process was painless and quick, guided by extremely kind volunteers. I received my results shortly after by SMS. I was really impressed with the efficiency and good management of the rapid test center. So when I saw the next day on Instagram that they needed volunteers, I thought why not?
I quickly signed up and chose a treatment test from the volunteer teams for a few hours the next day. It seemed like the perfect way to give back to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians as a Dal student who moved to Halifax from the United States for my studies.
When I arrived, around 30 minutes before the doors opened to the public, I learned how to put on personal protective equipment and take the test (it’s a bit like a pregnancy test). For the next three and a half hours, I tested swabs – all of which came back negative.
More than 1,500 people walked through the doors of the convention center that day, according to Dr. Lisa Barrett. A team of about twenty volunteers, dressed in these striking yellow coats, all worked to stamp our neighbors and process their tests.
Just like me, many Dal students have volunteered at third wave rapid testing centers. The entire rapid screening operation is managed by members of the community. Volunteering is easy and rewarding.
As an American watching the pandemic unfold at home for a year, it is sad to see the tragic effects of widespread epidemics. Nova Scotia, of course, has been a bright spot and living here has allowed me to live and study largely without worrying about infection. Now that Nova Scotia is in need, it seems fair to give back.
See also: Pop-up for the common good: Dal’s doctor spearheads rapid campus COVID screening site