Province taking a new approach to COVID-19 testing

by Morinville News Staff

The Government of Alberta is taking a new approach to COVID-19 testing that it says will prioritize groups at highest risk of local exposure and at-risk populations.

The province will no longer test travellers with mild symptoms who returned to Alberta after March 12. Rather, they are advised to self-isolate at home and away from others.

The new approach is on a go-forward basis; anyone already 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,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw. “This is consistent with the approach happening across Canada. 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 province says testing will now 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).

The government is advising those who do not fit any of the above categories to stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.

The online self-assessment tool has been updated to reflect the change in testing for returning travellers.

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.

Government expects those resources to be in place later this week.

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