By Justin Seward
The UCP government informed the province that asymptomatic testing is now available to all community pharmacies in Alberta on July 30.
This will help more people access timely COVID-19 testing close to home.
Although Bow Island Apple Drugs has opted out of the testing option due to limited space and staffing, the announcement comes as good news as whole for the pharmacy industry.
“Well more testing is going to get done,” said Taria Gouw, co-owner of Apple Drugs with husband Curtis.
“The numbers will continue to grow. It will lower the pressure on public health to do it and let them concentrate on people who are symptomatic. We’re only allowed to do the asymptomatic people. Anything pharmacy can expand and do is good for our profession.”
Gouw said the asymptomatic testing is good for pharmacy profession because it puts what they do as clinical services and what they provide in the health care system at the forefront in people’s minds.
The expanded testing was due to the successful provincial pilot program launched in June.
There was a group of pilot pharmacies that tested 10,300 Albertans, which resulted in increased testing capacity and helped in a safe relaunch.
“Our innovative pilot clearly showed that community pharmacies can safely provide more Albertans with easy access to testing. Alberta continues to expand its testing capacity and maintain one of the highest testing rates in the world. Strong COVID-19 testing is a key part of our relaunch strategy and will help us continue to protect Albertans from this virus in the days ahead,” said Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro.
Chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw says testing helps them understand the spread of COVID-19.
“With cases on the rise in Alberta, we must all do our part in the fight against COVID-19. The actions we each take today will help protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities tomorrow. Testing helps us understand more about the spread of COVID-19 in Alberta,” said Hinshaw.
“We are pleased to see Alberta Health expand the pharmacy-based COVID-19 testing program beyond the pilot. Most of the pharmacist practitioners participating in the pilot have been screening individuals prior to entering the pharmacy and testing by appointment only. Therefore, we encourage those interested in receiving a COVID-19 test to contact their pharmacist in advance,” said Margaret Wing, chief executive officer, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association
Asymptomatic testing is encouraged before or after spending time with individuals or are of high risk of serious health outcomes, travelling internationally,attending an event with recent travellers or hosting them, before or after participating in events that could put you at higher risk and frontline workers that have interaction with Albertans.