COVID-19 testing is about to become available even closer to home.
Following a successful pilot program that saw a limited number of community pharmacies in Calgary and Edmonton offer asymptomatic coronavirus testing, the Province of Alberta has announced that the program would be expanded to any pharmacy that wants to participate.
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A release from the province states that the initial pilot program tested over 10,000 Albertans at pharmacies throughout June, contributing to the nearly 677,000 tests that have been run in Alberta since the pandemic began.
“Our innovative pilot clearly showed that community pharmacies can safely provide more Albertans with easy access to testing,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in the release.
“Alberta continues to expand its testing capacity and maintain one of the highest testing rates in the world. Strong COVID-19 testing is a key part of our relaunch strategy and will help us continue to protect Albertans from this virus in the days ahead.”
Pharmacies that would like to offer the testing will need to abide by strict protocols, as well as have specialized skills to protect the safety of patients.
All pharmacy tests are of the throat swab variety.
While the names of participating locations were not made available during the pilot program to reduce the possibility of being overwhelmed with appointment requests, the list has now been made available at the Alberta Blue Cross’ website.
“With cases on the rise in Alberta, we must all do our part in the fight against COVID-19,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw in the release.
“The actions we each take today will help protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities tomorrow. Testing helps us understand more about the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.”
The Province of Alberta encourages the public to get an asymptomatic test, especially under the following scenarios:
- Before or after spending time with individuals who have a higher risk of serious health outcomes (e.g., anyone over 65 or with underlying medical conditions)
- Before or after travelling internationally, attending an event with recent travellers, or hosting them.
- Before or after participating in activities or events that may have put you at a higher risk of exposure (e.g., a large gathering where physical distancing was not followed).
- For frontline workers who have regular interactions with Albertans, particularly those at higher risk of serious outcomes.