CALGARY -- Albertans wanting to be tested for COVID-19 at AHS assessment centres will now have to book an appointment, the province’s chief medical officer of health announced during Tuesday’s regular update.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the change is aimed at making the testing procedure faster and more efficient.

“For most people, this will have no impact on your testing experience,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw. “Drop-in testing is only a small part of the testing currently being done. In fact, about 93 per cent of the tests are already being booked by appointment online, or by calling Health Link.”

The move is also aimed at reducing long lines and crowding seen at some testing centres.

Health Link can be reached by calling 811.

The change comes into effect Wednesday.

Hinshaw also asked those who make appointments to try and keep them, or notify AHS if they won’t be able to make it.

“The assessment centres are seeing a high no-show rate lately, which causes further delays in making appointments available for those who need them,” she said.

“For example, Calgary saw a 14 per cent no-show rate (over the Thanksgiving long weekend). It is easy and convenient to change or cancel your testing appointment online.”

More than 58,000 COVID-19 tests were done over the long weekend and more than 1.5 million tests have been done since the pandemic began earlier this year.

The province reported 961 new cases over the long weekend, including 236 on Friday, 259 on Saturday, 246 on Sunday and 220 on Monday.

There are currently 97 people in hospital due to COVID-19, with 13 of those in ICU.