Health Minister, Tyler Shandrow announced Thursday, December 17 that the province will be expanding COVID-19 rapid testing throughout Alberta.

This expansion will be aimed at Alberta's vulnerable communities, including homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, and remote rural communities.

Over 800,000 rapid tests have been acquired from the Public Health Agency of Canada to be utilized in mobile testing centres, the first of which will be deployed in Edmonton starting on December 18th.  The mobile testing centres are expected to be ready for deployment in the Calgary Zone starting the week of Dec. 21.

Mobile testing centres will focus first on outbreak sites then move to long-term care and designated supportive living facilities outside the Edmonton and Calgary zones. Twenty-five rural hospitals will become deployment sites. 

Shandro says, "Alberta’s COVID-19 testing program is critical to managing and preventing the spread of the virus in our communities. Bringing rapid point-of-care testing directly to the locations where it can help protect the health of the most vulnerable Albertans is an important addition to our provincial testing system.”

Rapid testing has proven effective with more than 1000 people being tested and 76 of those showing positive results being notified within hours. That effectiveness is the reason for expansion which will provide faster and more convenient testing. The tests will help to identify and isolate positive cases more rapidly than previously possible. The rapid tests are used on symptomatic patients. 

Shandro adds, "The expansion of rapid testing means that we can notify healthcare teams sooner to prioritize those who are still infectious. It will also free-up capacity and reduce turnaround times for PCR tests that our labs will continue to provide across the province."