Asymptomatic testing in Alberta is getting a serious boost.
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 is being expanded to all Shoppers Drug Mart locations and pharmacies at stores owned by Loblaw.
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A release from the province states that there are currently over 50 Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaw pharmacies offering asymptomatic testing, and that is expected to increase to all 234 of the company’s pharmacies as of September 1.
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Alberta has been a leader in testing,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in the release.
“We have consistently had the most open testing approach in Canada, and I am pleased to partner with Shoppers Drug Mart to further strengthen our capacity.”
In the lead up to schools reopening in September, Alberta’s teachers are being asked to get tested for coronavirus sometime in the weeks prior to the first day of classes.
As a result, asymptomatic Albertans are being asked to delay their own testing until after the school year starts on September 1.
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.
“Testing is a powerful tool that helps us limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect people from infection,” said Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in the release.
“Expanded testing capacity will support additional testing opportunities for all Albertans, including school teachers and staff. This will provide a baseline for school re-entry and enhance access throughout the school year.”
The Province of Alberta encourages the public to get an asymptomatic test (once school has restarted), 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.
Tests can be booked by contacting participating pharmacies.
As always, Albertans are urged to follow public health measures including practicing social distancing, maintaining proper hand hygiene, wearing a mask when out in public, and staying home if feeling at all sick.