Albertans will soon be able to get tested for COVID-19 at pharmacies.
Health Minister Tyler Shandro says people with no symptoms of the disease will be able to be tested in drug stores.
“In the coming days, a number of community pharmacies with the skills and capacity will offer testing to Albertans without symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19,” he said, adding this is in addition to the screening already offered provincewide by Alberta Health Services.
The announcement came as the provincial government confirmed 26 new cases of COVID-19, during a live update Thursday afternoon.
Of the 7,851 total confirmed cases in Alberta, 506 are active, 7,191 have recovered and 154 have died.
A new case has been confirmed in Red Deer, according to geospatial mapping on the government’s website.
This comes just one day after the city was declared clear of confirmed active cases – Red Deer has 35 recovered cases in addition to its one active case.
Alberta’s central zone has three active cases: the other two are located in Drumheller and Beaver County.
Sylvan Lake, Lacombe and Ponoka County each have two recovered cases. Lacombe County and Stettler County each have three recovered cases, and Clearwater County has just one recovered case.
Twelve people have recovered from the virus in Red Deer County. Olds and Mountain View County each have four recovered cases.
Testing offered to asymptomatic people at community pharmacies will be available in the coming days at 20 pharmacies in Alberta, mostly in Calgary and Edmonton. More pharmacies across the province will offer this form of testing in the coming weeks, said Shandro.
“This is a step that just makes sense. Pharmacists are highly trained health professionals and pharmacies support the health care of residents in their communities every day. Testing is well within pharmacists’ scope of practice and their competence.”
The pharmacy test is a throat swab, which will be sent to Alberta labs for analysis, Shandro said. Participating pharmacies will receive specialized training and will follow strict protocols, he added.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said testing is “one of the most important tools we have” to keep Albertans protected.
“We know that strong testing data helps us understand how our communities are affected by COVID-19,” said Hinshaw.