Photo from Alberta Health Services

Province to expand COVID rapid testing to seniors homes and rural hospitals

Mobile units will begin testing in Edmonton, then Calgary before expanding to rest of province

Alberta is expanding its rapid COVID-19 testing program to seniors facilities and rural hospitals across the province, Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced on Thursday morning.

Rapid testing will be available to residents of long-term care and support-living facilities who are within the first seven days of showing symptoms. Testing using mobile testing centres will start in Edmonton facilities this week, then move on to Calgary beginning next week and will expand soon after across the province.

“It means we can identify positive cases within hours,” said Shandro in a news conference.

Testing will be further expanded later this month and into January at 25 rural hospitals in the north, central and south zones. In central Alberta, hospitals in Rocky Mountain House, Castor and Coronation will get point-of-care testing, improving on a system that currently requires all patient samples to be sent to centralized public laboratories for analysis.

Hospitals in Drumheller, Wetaskiwin and Drayton Valley are also part of Alberta Health Services Central Zone and will get rapid testing.

Shandro said the 25 sites were chosen based on their location and transport time required to get tests analyzed, test volumes and community needs.

READ MORE

Red Deer seniors facilities hit by COVID

More Albertans have died from COVID this year than from flu in the last 10 years

“The expansion of rapid testing means we can notify health care teams sooner to prioritize those who are still infectious,” said Shandro, adding it will also free up capacity in testing labs.

The expansion of rapid testing systems to new locations across the province will provide faster and more convenient testing to identify and isolate positive cases quicker than has been possible previously, says Alberta Health.

More than 1,000 people have received the rapid tests at assessment centres and hospital locations to date, including 76 positive cases who were notified about their result in a matter of hours.

Dr. Will Stokes said the rapid tests have proven effective in identifying COVID cases, “especially in people with symptoms and signs of COVID-19 infection.

“Speeding up the identification of positive COVID-19 cases using these rapid tests is important to contain the spread of the virus in our communities. It will also help alleviate some of the pressures we face at the provincial laboratory.”

Asymptomatic people will not get rapid testing at this time because of the possibility of getting a negative result when the person actually is positive with a low level of COVID and still able to infect others.

Expansion of the rapid-testing clinical pilot began during the week of Dec. 7 with the deployment of systems at the first non-Alberta Health Services sites – Calgary’s Drop-In Centre and Edmonton’s isolation facility – where staff nurses have been trained to use the systems with homeless shelter clients who are difficult to reach through the existing COVID-19 testing program.

Work is underway to bring the systems to more homeless shelters in urban and rural locations in the coming weeks.

Since March, Alberta has completed more than 2.5 million COVID tests on 1.5 million people.



Send your news tips

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

An anti-lockdown protest went ahead outside a café in central Alberta on Saturday, despite pouring rain and a pre-emptive court injunction. (Photo by The Canadian Press)
Anti-restriction protest underway in central Alberta despite injunction

A large crowd has gathered in the parking lot of the Whistle… Continue reading

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

Most Read