Free rapid COVID-19 test kits to be given out in Alberta ahead of holidays
As the Omicron COVID-19 variant continues to spread across Alberta and around the world, the provincial government has announced new measures that aim to prevent transmission of the virus.
One of these measures includes expanding rapid testing in Alberta.
During a Wednesday morning press conference, Premier Jason Kenney informed Albertans that the province would begin providing rapid COVID-19 test kits free of charge to the public at select locations.
Starting December 17, Albertans can pick up test kits at more than 800 participating sites, including 700 select pharmacies in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer, and at 140 Alberta Health Services locations in other communities across the province.
In order to receive their free rapid test kit, a person has to have a valid Alberta health care card. Individuals can also pick up one additional kit(s) for another person(s) who cannot pick one up themselves, provided they have each person’s health care number.
Every kit contains five tests, along with instructions on when and how to administer the tests.
A press release from the Alberta Government notes that, for maximum benefit, an individual should use two tests each week, 72 hours apart. Tests are of particular benefit for those who have had a recent COVID-19 exposure.
Kits will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and Albertans can pick up one test kit every two weeks. Kenney added that these tests are intended for at-home personal use for regular screening in asymptomatic people.
Albertans who screen positive on a rapid test or who have COVID-19 symptoms should book a PCR test through Alberta Health Services to confirm and must isolate for 10 days or until they receive a negative PCR test result.
The free rapid test kits do not include appropriate documentation. As such, tests cannot be used for the province’s Restrictions Exemption Program, which requires privately paid test results or domestic or international travel.
Alberta currently has approximately half a million test kits available, and Kenney noted during the press conference that the provincial government is working to secure a larger stock.
Those interested in learning more, or picking up a kit, can visit the Government of Alberta’s website to find further details or locate a pick-up site near them.
As of December 14, a total of 50 cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in Alberta, including 27 in Calgary and 13 in Edmonton.