Some Albertans will soon need a referral from doctor for PCR testing, province says

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EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it is changing how it tests people for COVID-19.

Starting next week, Albertans who need a PCR test to inform their medical treatment must have a referral from a health-care professional.

Clinicians are to determine the best testing option for their patients, which could include rapid testing at home or in a clinic, in-clinic swabbing with the sample sent to the lab for PCR testing or a referral to an Alberta Health Services site for testing.

Physicians will also be required to request lab tests on their patients' behalf while using the Alberta Health Services online appointment booking system.

Self-referrals will still be available to people with symptoms who live or work in isolated Indigenous communities and workers in certain high-risk settings, such as health care, continuing care and correctional facilities.

Health Minister Jason Copping says in a statement that the changes would allow the province to direct its testing capacity toward those who are most at risk and allow health-care workers who were deployed to assessment centres during the pandemic to return to their regular roles.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, says Alberta can expect to see waves of COVID-19 continue into the fall.

"I would like to remind Albertans of the importance of monitoring for symptoms, staying home when sick and, for those eligible for treatment, quickly accessing rapid or PCR testing when sick," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 12, 2022

The Canadian Press

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