CALGARY -- A new provincial policy on COVID-19 testing is moving the focus away from travellers with mild symptoms and concentrating on groups most at risk.

Under the new setup, the general population and people who returned to Alberta in March after travelling abroad are encouraged to stay at home for a period of 14 days, physically distancing themselves from others, instead of seeking testing.

Prioritized testing is in place for the following groups if symptoms appear:

  • People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness.
  • Residents of continuing care and other similar facilities.
  • People who returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and March 12 (before the self-isolation protocols were in place.
  • Healthcare workers with respiratory symptoms

"Changing our testing protocols will allow us to focus Alberta’s testing capacity on those most at risk," said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, in a statement released Monday morning.

"This is consistent with the approach happening across Canada. It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources. Our new approach reflects the fact that the most important thing anyone can do if they have mild symptoms isn’t to get tested – it’s to stay home and self-isolate."

As of Sunday, there were 259 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta — 164 in the Calgary Zone — and 16 of the cases were contracted through community transmission.

According to the province, Alberta Health Services is working to ensure travellers receive proper advice on self-isolation and monitoring symptoms upon their return to Alberta.

The testing policy change goes into effect immediately but tests will be conducted on anyone who has been previously told by Health Link that they will be tested.


The original version of this story indicated the self-isolation period for people returning to Alberta after international travel was 10 days. The self-isolation period remains 14 days for travellers.