Gateway Gazette

Expanding Access to COVID-19 Testing

Alberta will offer asymptomatic COVID-19 testing at community pharmacies, making it easier for Albertans to access testing and help stop the spread.

A limited number of community pharmacies will begin to offer testing to Albertans without symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19. This is in addition to the robust COVID-19 testing already offered by Alberta Health Services.

Alberta remains among the world leaders in COVID-19 testing per capita. More than 415,000 tests have been completed across the province.

“Alberta is a world leader in testing, and this will further expand our capacity. By gradually expanding COVID-19 testing in community pharmacies, we continue to put safety first as we reopen the economy and get Albertans back to work. This is a key part of Alberta’s relaunch strategy and will help us continue protecting Albertans from this virus.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“Our testing data has shown that the vast majority of Albertans who have gone for testing without symptoms or known exposure to COVID have tested negative. This is encouraging. Whether you have symptoms or not, please consider getting tested. You are helping us understand more about the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta.” Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health

 “Pharmacist practitioners prescribe, vaccinate, and will now be able to administer COVID-19 tests for asymptomatic individuals.  Pharmacists volunteering to offer COVID-19 testing further acknowledges the vital role they continue to play in the delivery of public health care, helping to keep our communities safe and enhancing the fight against COVID-19.”Margaret Wing, CEO, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association

Over the next few days, a group of 20 community pharmacies located primarily in Edmonton and Calgary will begin to offer testing. The pharmacy test is a throat swab, which is sent to Alberta Precision Labs for analysis.

The number of pharmacies initially conducting COVID-19 testing is being limited to ensure the processes and flow of test materials and data is working well before expanding further. Additional pharmacies are planning to offer testing in the coming weeks.

Albertans are encouraged to talk to their local pharmacist to see if testing is available. Each participating pharmacy will adhere to strict protocols and has the specialized skills needed to protect patient safety. 

All Albertans are encouraged to be tested, even if they don’t have symptoms. In addition to participating pharmacies, anyone who wants to get tested can book an appointment online with the AHS assessment tool.

Quick facts

  • Alberta has one of the highest COVID-19 testing rates in the world, and has performed more than 415,000 tests on more than 367,000 Albertans.
  • Only those who are asymptomatic and have no known exposures to COVID-19 can be tested at participating pharmacies.
  • Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms must complete the COVID-19 self-assessment or call Health Link 811.
  • Test kits for pharmacies are being produced and analyzed by Alberta Precision Laboratories.
  • AHS will directly contact any Albertan who tests positive to discuss the results, begin contact tracing and protect the public’s health.

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