Increased COVID-19 testing in the La Loche region could start as soon as today, as the rapid testing machine GeneExpert could be operational by the end of Wednesday.

That machine if needed could process an urgent sample within one hour. Currently, samples are transported to Meadow Lake for analysis, taking several days.

So far, approximately 260 tests have been conducted in the area.

As testing ramps up, more health professionals will be brought in to handle the demand and preform more mobile testing.

La Loche reported two additional cases Tuesday evening and more are anticipated.

That community stands at 31 cases, with the Clearwater River Dene Nation at four.

There are 32 active cases.

Concern was raised as to whether people who tested negative must still self-isolate.

Dr. Rim Zayed a medical health officer said people identified through contact tracing or who can in close proximity to a confirmed case still need to continue to self-isolate as symptoms could appear later.

Residents who cannot self-isolate due to crowded housing and may not be able to clean are encouraged to seek community support.