Here's who is eligible for COVID-19 PCR testing in Alberta

Jan 10 2022, 11:20 pm

On Monday, health officials in Alberta announced eligibility changes for COVID-19 PCR testing, as testing volumes begin to exceed capacity.

It is now taking around two days to get test results back due to the swell in cases caused by the Omicron wave, according to Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.

Wait times for booking a PCR test are now approaching four days as well.

Who is eligible?

According to the province, the following people in Alberta are eligible to book a PCR test:

  • Continuing care residents and healthcare workers and staff in acute and continuing care settings, shelters and correctional facilities who meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • Need confirmation of a positive rapid test on screening
    • Have COVID-19 symptoms
    • Are part of an outbreak investigation where public health has requested lab-PCR testing
  • Symptomatic household members of a person who works in continuing care or acute care.
  • Emergency department or hospital patients of all ages who meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • Inpatients who develop new COVID-19 symptoms while in hospital
    • Patients being admitted for symptoms consistent with COVID-19
    • Patients in the emergency department with respiratory illness where a test will change treatment plans
  • Symptomatic community patients who would be eligible for Sotrovimab (monoclonal antibody) treatment if positive:
    • Those who are not immunized and are:
      • 55 or older
      • 18 and older with one of the following health conditions: diabetes, obesity, chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or moderate-to-severe asthma
      • children aged 12 to 17, with referral by a pediatric I.D. specialist, or
      • pregnant
    • Those who are immunosuppressed (transplant, active cancer or systemic immune treatment), regardless if immunized or not.
  • People from isolated and remote First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities and individuals travelling to these communities for work.
  • Asymptomatic continuing care residents returning/readmitted from other healthcare settings.
  • Pediatric and adult asymptomatic transplant donors and recipients, prior to transplant.
  • Pediatric and adult oncology patients, prior to commencing chemotherapy.
  • Newborns born to COVID-positive parents.
  • Returning international travellers who become symptomatic within 14 days after their arrival.

“While we have been used to managing COVID through widespread PCR testing, that approach is not possible with the Omicron variant,” said Hinshaw in a news release. “At this time, most people who have mild symptoms don’t need a PCR test. For those without risk factors such as immunosuppression, they should self-isolate and manage their symptoms at home, using a rapid test if they have one.”

Health Link 811 continues to experience high daily call volumes. It is recommended Albertans use the online COVID-19 assessment tool to check their symptoms or the symptoms of someone they may be caring for before they call Health Link.

Laine MitchellLaine Mitchell

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