The Alberta government is changing its testing protocols when it comes to COVID-19, to focus on the population that is deemed most at risk. 

In a statement released today, Alberta Health Services says travellers who returned to Alberta after March 12 and have mild symptoms will no longer be tested for COVID-19.

This change is effective from now on, so anyone who has already been told by Health Link that they will be tested will still get tested. 

“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. It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

She says "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.”

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.
  • Health-care workers with respiratory symptoms (this testing will begin later this week).

Anyone who has symptoms but does not fit into any of these categories should stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until their symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. 

This online self-assessment tool has been updated to reflect the changes in testing for any travellers who are returning.

Alberta Health Services says it 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.