Province of Alberta changing how it prioritizes coronavirus testing

Mar 23 2020, 10:19 am

Not everyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be able to get tested for the disease.

The Province of Alberta has announced a new approach for coronavirus testing prioritization, stating in a release on Monday morning that travellers who returned to Alberta after March 12 and have mild symptoms will no longer be tested.

These returned travellers are instead being asked to simply self-isolate at home and away from others — the same advice applied to all Albertans who are displaying mild symptoms.

“Changing our testing protocols will allow us to focus Alberta’s testing capacity on those most at risk. This is consistent with the approach happening across Canada,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw in the release.

“It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources. Our new approach reflects the fact that the most important thing anyone can do if they have mild symptoms isn’t to get tested – it’s to stay home and self-isolate.”

The change is effective as of Monday, March 23, meaning that anyone who has been told by Health Link that they will be tested will still be able to get the test, the release states.

Instead of travellers who arrived after the self-isolation protocols were in place, testing will be prioritized for symptomatic individuals who are; hospitalized with a respiratory illness; a resident of continuing care or other similar facilities; have returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and March 12; and health-care workers with respiratory problems.

The release also notes that anyone who does not fit into the above categories but who does begin to notice symptoms of coronavirus is asked to self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longest.

“Alberta Health Services is building extra capacity to be able to provide advice to returning travellers with symptoms, ensuring they are following proper medical directions including staying home and away from others, and monitoring their symptoms. These resources are expected to be in place later this week,” the release states.

Albertans can access the AHS self-assessment tool to determine if they may have coronavirus.