Pharmacy-based Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Program


On October 20, 2020, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced that the province is “pressing pause” on all asymptomatic testing for COVID19 in the province, including pharmacies, in an effort to decrease wait time for test results. The province will continue with Symptomatic Testing for Albertans with symptoms and anyone who has no symptoms but is a close contact of a COVID case or linked to an outbreak.  No new bookings for asymptomatic tests should be booked beyond October 20, 2020, and any existing bookings for test appointments will still be honoured until November 4, 2020. Dr. Hinshaw also thanked all community pharmacists for “Stepping up as you always do.” More details and information about the change to testing can be found in the Alberta Blue Cross Benefact.

Alberta Health Announces a Targeted Approach to Asymptomatic Testing

The Alberta Cheif Medical Officer of Health announced that Alberta is shifting to a targeted approach for asymptomatic COVID-19 testing to reduce testing wait times, speed up access to results and support Albertans during influenza season and the winter months.

In May, Alberta offered voluntary asymptomatic testing to any Albertans. In more than 233,000 voluntary asymptomatic tests only about 7 per 10,000 tests were positive. It’s rare to find cases in those without symptoms or known exposure.

COVID-19 testing in Alberta is now only recommended for:

  • Albertans with symptoms of COVID-19;
  • Albertans who are close contacts of a confirmed case, whether symptomatic or not;
  • Albertans who are linked to a known outbreak, whether symptomatic or not; and,
  • Asymptomatic Albertans who are:
    • School teachers and/or school staff;
    • Healthcare workers;
    • Staff and/or residents at congregate living facilities, including long-term care;
    • Experiencing homelessness; or
    • Require asymptomatic testing for the purpose of travel

Albertans are being asked to operate on the honour system based on these recommendations.

Pharmacies conducting asymptomatic COVID-19 testing are encouraged to inform patients about the new testing recommendations but are not required to identify or assess need based on the target groups for anyone presenting for testing.

For clarity, at this time, an Albertan should not be denied testing if they are not within the target groups and still request to have an asymptomatic COVID-19 test conducted.

View the Alberta Blue Cross Benefact #897.

For a list of pharmacies currently offering testing, click here.  
For pharmacists wishing to volunteer to become a tester or to receive more information about the program, click here or contact Alberta Blue Cross at
780-498-8370 (Edmonton and area)
403-294-4041 (Calgary and area)
 1-800-361-9632 (toll free)

RxA Members interested in lessons learned from Pharmacy Based Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Program or interested in participating in the Testers Chat Group click here

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