Changes to Alberta’s testing program
- Free PCR testing is available only for those who have clinical risk factors for severe outcomes and those who live and work in high-risk settings. Starting July 18, some eligible people will need a referral from a health care provider. Some testing locations will change.
- Free rapid antigen test kits are available for at-home use.
- Wastewater monitoring is used to provide a broad picture of infection levels in a community.
- Isolation is recommended for Albertans with most common COVID-19 symptoms. Employers should not ask for proof of a PCR or rapid test in order to receive time off of work.
- Translated resources are available in Af-Soomaali, Arabic, 中文, हिंदी, 한국어, ਪੰਜਾਬੀ, Español, Français, Tagalog, Tiếng Việt and Urdu. Or call 811 for help.
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
- 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, but you do not need to stay home or get tested unless you also have one of the other COVID-19 symptoms listed above.
These symptoms apply to all COVID-19 strains and variants.
At-home rapid testing
- Albertans can get free COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits for at-home use at participating pharmacies across the province.
- Free PCR testing through AHS assessment centres or designated swabbing sites is only available to people:
- at risk of severe illness, or
- who work or live in high risk settings
Eligible through self-referral
- People who live or work in high-risk settings can continue to arrange testing by taking the AHS online assessment:
- People with symptoms who live or work in isolated and remote First Nation, Inuit, and Métis communities
- Health care workers or workers in specific high risk settings
Eligible with referral from a health care provider
- Starting July 18, the following people require a referral from a health care provider to get a PCR test if it is needed to inform their care:
- Symptomatic high-risk people who may be eligible for outpatient treatments such as Paxlovid or Remdesivir (anti-viral drugs)
- Pregnant people with symptoms
- People who have been referred for testing as part of their medical assessment
Your health care provider will determine the best testing option, including rapid testing, in-clinic PCR testing, or a referral to an AHS site.
If you are eligible for outpatient treatment and do not have a health care provider, or are unable to book an appointment, call AHS Health Link at 1-844-343-0971.
Other testing programs
Testing for health care workers and workers in high risk settings
Health care workers and workers in specific high risk settings listed here are eligible for PCR testing:
- Health care workers*
- Group home, disability support and shelter workers;
- Correctional facility staff in provincial & federal facilities
- Individuals who provide services in a clinical care setting including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies
*You are considered a healthcare worker if you work in the following settings:
- AHS or Covenant facility in which patient care is provided
- Home Care
- Primary Care
- Diagnostic Imaging or Laboratory Clinics
- Medical Specialty Clinics
- Continuing Care and Licensed Supportive Living Sites
- Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians in patient care settings
- Other settings where face-to-face patient care is provided (including emergency medial responders)
- 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 before they become asymptomatic. As such, wastewater can provide an early indication of infection trends in a community.
- The wastewater surveillance data for the province can be viewed on the Alberta COVID-19 data dashboard.
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. Most people with mild illness do not need a test or a conversation with their doctor.
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 Medical Association assessment tool or call Health Link 811 for advice.
Get your results online
Access COVID-19 test results through MyHealth Records - a secure online service that helps keep track of your health information.
Assess your severe illness risk
Some people have a higher risk of experiencing severe health outcomes, including hospitalization, intensive care or death.
Was this page helpful?
You will not receive a reply. Do not enter any personal information such as telephone numbers, addresses, or emails.
Your submissions are monitored by our web team and are used to help improve the experience on Alberta.ca. If you require a response, please go to our Contact page.