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COVID-19 tests available for everyone, but there may be a wait

Posted on July 23, 2020 by Vauxhall Advance

By Gillian Slade
Alta Newspaper Group – Medicine Hat

Anyone in Alberta can have a COVID-19 test whether they have symptoms or not but it may take a few days.

Between July 8 and 14 about 3,000 tests were booked in the south zone that includes Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

A spokesperson for Alberta Health Services says some people with symptoms are upset that they can’t get a test on the same day they request it, or at least on the following day.

“But, it’s important to remember that if you’re symptomatic, then you have to self-isolate regardless of testing, or test results,” said Kerry Williamson, spokesperson.

Appointments for symptomatic individuals in South Zone are typically scheduled within 24 hours, and for asymptomatic people tests are generally scheduled within a week.

Regardless of whether they get tested or not, people with symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days, or 10 days after the onset of symptoms. However, priority is given to those with symptoms.

AHS is seeing a steady increase in requests for COVID-19 testing across the province but there is no particular delay or backlog in the South Zone. There is a slightly higher demand in Lethbridge, and normal demand in Medicine Hat. There are currently 12 locations in the South Zone where people are sent for a COVID-19 test.

“All symptomatic and asymptomatic appointments must be scheduled online or by calling 811 – there are no drop-in locations,” said the spokesperson. “By booking online or through 811, people are able to avoid delays when they arrive at the testing site.”

AHS is working on having some additional options for people who are in a hurry to get a COVID test. Now Albertans will have an option of selecting from a range of testing centres within 75 km of their postal code, should they wish to travel to get the test sooner.

After the test is complete the average time to get the test results is two to four days. People can give consent for an automatic phone message if the result is negative.

“If someone has consented to receive a negative result through an automated phone message, we strongly encourage them to answer calls from phone numbers they may not recognize.”
People can also access results by connecting with their family physician’s office where they can see them on Netcare.

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