New approach for COVID-19 testing in Alberta targets at-risk populations

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Alberta will be changing its approach to COVID-19 testing, with a new format that prioritizes at-risk populations and those at the highest risk of exposure.

The changes, announced by Alberta Health on Monday, mean travellers returning to the province after March 12 who have mild symptoms will no longer be tested for the novel coronavirus. Instead, they will be asked to self-isolate at home and away from others.

“This change is effective going forward,” a news release stated. “So anyone who has already been told by Health Link that they will be tested will still get tested.”

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Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said the change will allow Alberta’s testing capacity to focus on those most at risk.

“This is consistent with the approach happening across Canada,” Hinshaw explained in a news release. “It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources.

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“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.”

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Testing will be prioritized for the following individuals — if they are symptomatic:

  • People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness.
  • Residents of continuing care and other similar facilities.
  • People who returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and March 12 (before the self-isolation protocols were in place).



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