Effective immediately, Alberta is once again changing who is eligible for the COVID-19 PCR test as the Omicron variant continues to push the province’s testing capabilities beyond its limits.
“While we have used widespread PCR testing to manage COVID-19 in previous waves, this approach is not possible with the Omron version,” Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Dina Hinshaw, said Monday.
“To ensure that patient care decisions are supported by timely clinical information, PCR test eligibility is now based on clinical risk factors for serious outcomes and those living or working in high-risk settings. will be focused.”
(Click here for Monday’s COVID-19 numbers)
A full list of who is now eligible for PCR testing is available online, but some examples of Hinshaw’s include: continuing care residents, health care workers and workers in acute and continuing care settings, shelters and correctional facilities, household members A person who works in continuous or acute care, people with symptoms who have certain risk factors, all residents and workers in isolated and remote First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, returnees to international travelers who become symptomatic within 14 days and hospital and emergency room department patients of any age who are so ill that COVID testing will alter treatment plans.
Hinshaw stressed that the change does not mean that anyone who goes to the emergency room will be PCR tested.
“Please do not go to an emergency unless you are so ill that it really needs immediate treatment. Going in for mild symptoms will not make you eligible for a PCR test.”
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As Omicron has grown across Alberta, wait times for PCR tests have increased to several days and test results are now taking about 48 hours.
Anyone who currently has an appointment booked but does not fall under the new guidelines is asked to cancel their appointment online or by calling 811.
“The Omicron variant is so prevalent in our communities right now that if you have COVID-19 symptoms such as stuffy or runny nose, cough, fever, sore throat, or loss of smell or taste, you should assume that you have COVID-19. 19 and need to be legally isolated,” Hinshaw said.
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The Alberta Health Services COVID-19 Assessment Tool has been updated to help determine who is eligible for testing, but also with new information about what type of care to seek and symptoms at home. How to take care
The new assessment tool should be used before calling 811 for assistance, Hinshaw said.
“If you are otherwise healthy and without risk factors, please use this screening tool and rapid test, if available, to confirm your symptoms and manage your disease at home.”
The current device is for adults only. A child version will be available later in the week, Hinshaw said.
Monday’s COVID-19 Numbers
Alberta confirmed 5,384 additional cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The province conducted around 13,879 tests in the last 24 hours and the positivity rate of the province stood at 38 per cent.
The province also confirmed 6,135 cases on Sunday and 6,161 on Saturday.
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There were 57,332 active lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases across the province.
Alberta now has 14,078 confirmed cases from Omicron, with 1,428 cases reported since Friday’s update.
As the province has already lowered PCR testing norms once during this wave, the number of cases is likely to be much higher than reported.
There were 635 people with COVID-19 in the hospital, of whom 72 were receiving care in the ICU.
Six additional deaths were reported, bringing Alberta’s COVID-19 death toll to 3,344.
Since the start of the pandemic, 412,829 Albertans have been confirmed to have COVID-19. Of these, 352,153 have been cured.
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