Calgary, Edmonton drive-thru testing for COVID-19 by AHS referral only

An AHS worker administering a COVID-19 test at a drive-thru assessment centre in Calgary, Alta. Courtesy / AHS

AHS testing centres for COVID-19 are ramping up services, including adding drive-thru options, as more people require testing in the Edmonton and Calgary zones.

The centres are all by referral only, said an AHS representative, which means that members of the public will not be allowed to drive up without having been told to go for testing by Health Link 811.

“We aren’t making the addresses available publicly, since they are referral-only sites (no walk-ins) and we don’t want to overwhelm the sites with people showing up asking for a test,” said Alberta Health Services spokesperson Marni Kuhlmann in an email to Global News.

She also said that there are currently no discussions to move towards a walk-in style testing program.

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As of Sunday, March 15, Calgary has one assessment centre open that is also running drive-thru assessments, and Edmonton currently has three open, including a drive-thru centre opening on Sunday.

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Calgary expects to open a second assessment centre next week.

There are also two centres currently operating in the province’s central zone, one in Red Deer and one in Camrose, said Kuhlmann.

In Edmonton, the North Assessment Centre has seen 1,783 patients since opening on March 7. The city’s South Assessment Centre saw 180 patients on Saturday, its first day of operations. The drive-thru location in west Edmonton opened Sunday.

In Calgary, the city’s one centre, also a drive-thru, has seen 604 patients tested in their vehicles since it opened on March 10 and 2,170 patients tested inside.

The centres have security on hand to ensure no one enters the assessment areas unless they are referred there by Health Link.

Tests in the south and north areas of the province are being done through public health centres or home visits, said Kuhlman.

Before calling Health Link, Albertans should take the coronavirus online assessment test to determine if they need to speak to a nurse.

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Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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