Overview

You can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses as Alberta continues to live with COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect you from getting severely sick from COVID-19 infection. All vaccines are safe, effective and save lives.

All remaining mandatory public health restrictions were lifted on June 14, 2022.

Prevent the spread

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine

    • All approved vaccines are safe, effective and continue to play a role in preventing COVID-19 infection and limiting its spread. More importantly, these vaccines help prevent serious illness from COVID-19 infection.
    • Albertans 6 months and older can receive a vaccine now.

    Learn more: COVID-19 vaccine information

  • Get routine vaccinations

    All Albertans are encouraged to stay up to date with all routine immunizations, including COVID-19 and influenza.

    Learn more about immunization and routine immunization schedule.

  • Practice good hygiene

    Practicing good hygiene habits can protect you and those around you from spreading COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

    • stay home if you are feeling sick
    • wash or sanitize your hands often
    • cover your coughs and sneezes
    • avoid touching your face
    • clean and disinfect surfaces regularly (for example, counters, doorknobs)
  • Reduce risk indoors

    Crowded or poorly ventilated indoor spaces can increase the risk of spreading respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.

    You can help prevent the spread by:

    • opening windows when possible
    • ensuring ventilation systems are maintained
    • limiting time spent in crowded indoor places
  • Wear a mask

    Wearing a mask in public can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. Wearing a mask can help reduce your risk of infection and help protect people from being exposed to your germs.​

    • Anyone who has had respiratory symptoms in the previous 10 days should wear a mask when indoors with other people.
    • Individuals who are at higher risk for severe outcomes from respiratory illness (for example, people who are immunocompromised) may want to wear a mask while indoors with others.

    Learn more about wearing a mask:

  • Isolate when sick

    Isolation helps prevent the spread by reducing the number of people you could infect by staying home and avoiding others.

    • If you have respiratory virus symptoms or test positive for any respiratory illness you should stay home until your symptoms have improved, you feel well enough to resume normal activities, and you are free of fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.
      • It is also recommended that you wear a mask when you are around others in indoor settings for a total of 10 days from when your symptoms started.
      • Anyone who is feeling unwell, regardless of whether they have tested positive for a respiratory virus or not, are advised to avoid visiting acute care or continuing care settings except when necessary (for example, to receive emergency care). 
    • Alberta Health Services employees with symptoms of respiratory illness should follow the Attending Work Directive.
    • Health care workers who do not work for Alberta Health Services and are experiencing symptoms of respiratory illness should follow the Guidance for Management of Symptomatic Healthcare Workers (PDF, 99 KB).
    • Hospitalized patients or residents in congregate care facilities or living sites should follow isolation recommendations directed by AHS Infection Prevention and Control and/or the facility.
  • Know how it spreads

    COVID-19 is transmitted though tiny respiratory droplets or aerosols produced by people who have the virus.

    • The virus spreads most commonly by breathing in air that contains infected droplets from people coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing, and singing, or when the infected droplets come into direct contact with another person’s nose, mouth or eyes.
    • The virus may also spread by touching objects or surfaces the virus has landed on and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • People who have COVID-19 can spread it to others before they start to feel sick.

    COVID-19 does not appear to regularly transmit like measles through long-range transmission, but there are circumstances that raise the risk of aerosol transmission, such as crowded or poorly ventilated indoor spaces where people are engaging in activities like singing or high intensity exercise.

    We think the virus generally only survives for a few hours on a surface or object, but it may be possible for it to survive several days under some conditions.

  • Variants of concern

    Variants of concern may spread more easily, cause more severe illness, require different treatments, affect the reliability of diagnostic tests, or have reduced vaccine effectiveness.

    Alberta continues to monitor for variants of concern.

Symptoms and testing

  • Symptoms

    COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms that can be mild to severe. You should isolate at home if you have any of the following symptoms:

    • fever or chills
    • runny or stuffy nose
    • sore throat
    • cough
    • difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • nausea or diarrhea
    • loss or altered sense of taste/smell

    Headache, fatigue and joint or muscle pain are also common symptoms of COVID-19. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other viruses. 

    If you feel unwell you should stay home regardless of whether you have tested positive for COVID-19 or not.

  • Caring for someone with COVID-19

    • If you have mild symptoms, follow advice on how to care for yourself and others at home. Do not visit an emergency department for a PCR test.
    • If you have severe symptoms, call 911 immediately if you experience difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, feelings of confusion, or loss of consciousness.
    • If you're unsure when to seek medical attention, use the Alberta Health Services tool or call Health Link 811 for advice.
    • Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are high-risk may be eligible to receive outpatient treatment. This treatment helps to prevent high risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms from progressing to severe disease if taken shortly after symptom onset.
    • Learn more about outpatient treatment options or call Health Link 811 for more information.
  • Rapid testing

    Where to get test kits

    All Albertans can get free COVID-19 rapid testing kits for at-home use at participating pharmacies across the province.

    Find a pharmacy offering rapid test kits near you or call/visit your local pharmacy to inquire about picking up a test kit.

    How to test

    These tests work best when used for people who have symptoms. It is no longer recommended to use a rapid antigen test on someone who does not have any symptoms of respiratory illness.

    If your test result does not match either the negative or the positive examples on the procedure card, re-test until you receive a positive or negative result.

    Documenting and sharing your test result

    You may want to document your positive rapid test result in case you would like to share the results with someone.

    To make this easier, complete the following form and share it along with a picture of the rapid test result with whomever you need to.

  • Molecular (PCR) testing

    As Alberta continues to transition to an endemic approach to managing COVID-19, AHS Assessment Centers closed on March 31, 2023.

    PCR testing is available only for: 

    • people at risk of severe outcomes if required to support their clinical care
    • those living in specific high-risk settings for outbreak management purposes

    Your health care provider will determine the best testing option.

  • Wastewater surveillance

    • Wastewater monitoring is one of many tools in understanding the overall burden of infection in a community, and provides a broad picture of infection in a community.
    • The Alberta Wastewater Surveillance Program is a collaboration between the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Alberta Precision Laboratories, and Alberta Health.
    • The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been demonstrated to be present in the feces of a significant proportion of infected individuals, and individuals infected with COVID-19 may pass the virus in their feces, as such wastewater can provide an indication of infection trends in a community.
    • The wastewater surveillance data for the province can be viewed on the Alberta COVID-19 data dashboard.

Guidance

  • General guidance

  • Assessing personal risk

    Assessing your risk

    • You're encouraged to assess and manage your personal risk. It is reasonable to continue using precautions that serve your needs.
    • When assessing your personal risk, it is important to consider your setting, individual health and wellness factors, and comfort level.
    • Consult your health care provider if you want help assessing your personal risk of severe outcomes or determining your personal risk level.

    Factors that lower COVID-19 risk:

    • you mostly socialize outdoors, instead of indoors
    • you have a small social circle
    • you can maintain distancing from other people

    If you have personal risk factors for severe outcomes from COVID-19 you may consider additional precautions such as:

    • avoiding or limiting time spent in crowded indoor places
    • minimizing close contact with anyone showing cold-like symptoms
    • wearing a face mask in indoor places

     

  • Congregate care facilities

    All Chief Medical Officer of Health orders specific to continuing care were lifted on June 30, 2022.

  • Travel advice

    Domestic travel

    • Proof of vaccination and wearing masks are no longer required to travel on planes or trains in Canada.
    • Wearing high quality masks while in transit is still recommended.

    International travel

    • Effective October 1, 2022, the Government of Canada removed all COVID-19 border measures including proof of vaccination, testing, quarantine, isolation and use of the ArriveCAN app. 
    • Other jurisdictions may continue to have travel restrictions. Travellers should check to see if travel measures are in effect for their destination.
    • Visit Canada's Travel Advice and Advisory website for more information.

    International arrivals

    • All travellers can return or travel to Canada from an international location, regardless of vaccination status. No pre-entry or arrival COVID-19 tests are required.
    • Visit Canada’s COVID-19 travel webpage for more information.

Get help

  • Paid vaccination leave

    All working Albertans can access 3 hours of paid, job-protected leave to get each dose of the vaccine.

  • Mental health and addiction

    The COVID-19 pandemic can have a significant impact on mental health.

    Online resources are available if you need advice on handling stressful situations: 

    If you need to talk, call the 24-hour help lines: