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Only high-risk Albertans are now eligible for PCR testing amid Omicron wave

Changes in PCR testing made Monday (Jan. 10) means only those working or living in high-risk settings or are, themselves, at high risk can be tested.
Covid swab PCR test doctor
The number of active COVID-19 cases is on the rise across Canada, as the Omicron variant continues to spread.

Changes in PCR testing made Monday (Jan. 10) means only those working or living in high-risk settings or are, themselves, at high risk can be tested. 

Alberta's top doctor Dr. Deena Hinshaw said with a positivity rate at 38 per cent, any one with symptoms, such as a stuffy or runny nose or cough, should assume they have COVID-19 and are legally required to isolate. 

"While we have used widespread PCR testing to manage COVID-19 in previous waves, this approach is just not possible with the Omicron variant," Hinshaw said. 

Hinshaw asked those who have tests booked to cancel to further ensure those who are eligible can access appointments. 

With the rate of spread of Omicron, Hinshaw said it's not possible for all who test positively on a rapid test to contact their physician for the purpose of obtaining a doctor's note. She urged employers and organizations to not make proof of a positive result a requirement to support sick leave requests. 

"Anyone with COVID symptoms almost certainly has COVID and should just be staying home," Hinshaw said. 

A printable PDF form has been developed as a means to document a positive rapid test result in a more formal way, Hinshaw said. The document is available on Alberta.ca, but it does not replace privately paid rapid tests nor can it be used in the Restrictions Exemptions Program, she said. 

A full list of those eligible for PCR tests can be seen on Alberta.ca.

Hinshaw announced 5,384 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours and another six deaths have been recorded since Jan. 6. 

Currently, 635 people are being treated for COVID-19; 72 are in the intensive care unit.