Alberta Mirror

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Alberta starts rationing PCR tests as Omicron surge washes over the region


Key takeaways: 

  • ‘Need for PCR testing has driven our testing system above its capacity.’
  • Overall PCR testing to control COVID-19 is “just not feasible with the Omicron variant,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Deena Hinshaw spoke Monday.

The region starts rationing the PCR tests due to the Omicron surge: 

Alberta is now restricting PCR testing for COVID-19 to individuals with danger factors for extreme outcomes and those who live or work in high-risk settings.

“With a recent growth in Omicron cases, demand for PCR testing has pushed our testing system beyond its capacity,” Dr Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, disclosed to a press conference Monday. Source –

“As many Albertans have found, just getting an appointment for a swab takes several days and the time to get outcomes back is now near to 48 hours after the swab is taken,” Hinshaw stated. Source –

“While we have used general PCR testing to control COVID-19 in previous waves, this approach is just not feasible with the Omicron variant.” Source –

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Alberta starts rationing PCR tests as Omicron surge washes over the region

Those who can be tested include resuming care citizens, healthcare workers and teams in acute and continuing care settings, shelters and correctional facilities.

PCR testing is also still open for

  • Symptomatic household members of an individual who operates in continuing or acute care.
  • People with symptoms who have dangerous factors that would make them qualify for monoclonal antibody cure if positive for COVID-19.
  • Those with considerable immunocompromised situations.
  • Citizens and workers from isolated and remote First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.
  • Returning international visitors who become symptomatic within 14 days after they come.
  • Hospital or emergency department patients of any age who are sick enough that COVID testing would alter treatment methods.

The transition to PCR testing is not uncommon to Alberta, Hinshaw stated. 

“All other regions — including, but not restricted to Quebec, B.C. and Ontario — are currently limiting their PCR testing programs to specific categories to help manage with the Omicron wave,” she stated. Source –

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