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New COVID-19 online test will be available tonight

Doctors are now able to bill $20 per call to help combat COVID-19.
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The province has announced a new type of COVID-19 testing will be available tonight due to an overwhelming amount of calls being made to Health Link 811.

Tonight Albertans will be able to access an online self-assessment tool at http://ahs.ca/covid and it will let Albertans how if they need to call 811 for further guidance.

Health Link 811 has been getting around 6,300 calls daily and Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been training staff to increase the amount of available lines. Currently there are 182 lines, which has tripled from 69.

RELATED: 811 flooded with calls

“I understand and have heard from Albertans who are frustrated about the time it takes to reach a Health Link operator. I urge Albertans to please continue being patient and to stay on the line. We will continue to work to manage Health Link wait times and ensure Albertans can get access to testing promptly," Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health, said.

 Shandro also announced a new billing code for doctors, which will allow them to bill $20 per call to help advise their patients on COVID-19. This billing code was also enacted during the H1N1 outbreak of 2009.

“We will do whatever is necessary to support the response effort," Shandro says.

"Our health system remains strong.”

AHS posted on social media that they are overloaded with calls from Albertans concerned about COVID-19 and advised people to try and call between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. or between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

AHS says they are training additional clinical staff who are continuing to come on board to provide dedicated additional COVID support.

RELATED: Talking to kids about virus? Experts say be calm and honest

AHS asks for you to help the call volumes by visiting http://alberta.ca/covid19 if you do not need a health assessment.

For health concerns unrelated to COVID-19, consider visiting http://ahs.ca/options to find out where to get the right care for your health needs.

Do not call 911 except for in the case of an emergency where life, safety or property is in immediate danger or there is a crime in progress.

Do not call Health Link if you are waiting to be tested. You will be contacted to arrange for testing. In the meantime, please follow self-isolation procedures to reduce the risk of transmission.

Do not call Health Link if you are waiting for your COVID-19 test results. They do not have access to your results. If you have been tested for COVID, remain in self-isolation until you are called directly with your test results.

Update on cases

Six new people are confirmed to have COVID-19 in the province, bringing the total to 29.

All are travel-related.

One of the cases involves a man from the Edmonton zone who recently attended a conference in Vancouver and was notified that a positive case had attended the same conference. After returning, the individual visited a number of dental offices. As soon as this case tested positive, health officials took immediate action to protect the health of Albertans. All contacts who may have been at risk of exposure have been contacted for follow-up assessment and testing.

The other cases involve people in the Calgary zone and include a returning traveller from Florida, and four household contacts of a previously confirmed case.

All six people are now self-isolated at home and the individuals are expected to make a full recovery.


Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Jennifer Henderson is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for Great West Newspapers based in St. Albert, Alta.
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