Using online tools will help protect vulnerable Albertans and speed up test results: Hinshaw

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Alberta’s Dr. Deena Hinshaw explains why it is too soon to follow a herd immunity approach to COVID-19.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw gave an outline Monday of several new measures she is recommending Albertans participate in amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Risk assessment

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said the province has launched a new assessment tool for people to use to see whether they’re a higher risk for contracting the virus.

“While all of us need to regularly take actions to protect those around us independent of our risk level, this tool will help Albertans understand their personal risk for severe outcomes should they become infected,” Hinshaw said.

“This is something we have been asked for by Albertans who want to know which medical conditions are linked to the highest risk of severe outcomes.”

The risk test can be taken online and asks for basic information like age and gender, as well as if people have any known health issues like diabetes or liver disease, among others.

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The risk assessment tool gives specific social distancing and safety advice following the results depending on whether you’re determined to be low, moderate, or at high risk of complications.

MyHealth Records fastest option for test results

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Hinshaw said that so far, a total of 651,000 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19. The latest daily numbers show that on July 24, 10,617 people were tested, 9,848 on July 25, and 7,428 on July 26.

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According to Hinshaw, the priority for delivering test results is currently focused on those with symptoms, who have come in close contact of a positive case, or if results are positive.

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“Positive results are the ones that are fast-tracked as a priority for responding,” Hinshaw said. “So when people have a test done, those who have a negative test may have to wait a little longer than those who have a positive test.”

Read more: Alberta Health Services sees surge in coronavirus testing demand, long wait times

She said Monday that all Albertans should sign up for a MyHealth Records account, which will give the result faster than waiting for a call from AHS.

“This is the fastest way to get your results, as you can see them online as soon as they are available,” Hinshaw said.

Results usually take two to four days, but they might take longer “due to the current unprecedented demand for testing,” AHS said last week.

The online service has been available to Albertans since early 2019 and allows people to see their recent lab test results, prescriptions and immunization history, among other things.

To sign up for a MyHealth Records account, people need a valid government ID.

In order to access your health results on the website or app, you’ll have to get verified by being mailed an access code following registration.

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However, Hinshaw said she believes it is worth it for Albertans to follow the steps and get registered.

“This is an easy and proactive step you can take that can make things easier if you are tested and waiting for results in the future,” she said.

Hinshaw added that AHS is currently working to reduce wait times for negative results by increasing its testing capacity, but that there are also other important health services that have diverted some workers.

“As we have moved into relaunch, there are many other health services that had been paused that are now back online,” she said. “It’s a balance to make sure that we have the staff and the resources to support health needs of Albertans.”

Albertans with symptoms or those who would like to take an asymptomatic test can do so online.