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Alberta could start testing asymptomatic people for COVID-19 once current expansion is completed

Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 are seen in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 26, 2020. Ontario's overly cautious approach to COVID-19 testing is endangering lives and hindering efforts to rein in soaring infections that are ravaging long-term care facilities, filling ICU beds and lurking silently in communities, say critics alarmed by the province's admission that labs can handle four times the number of tests they receive. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Those who show no symptoms of COVID-19 could be tested for the virus in the future, but only after the province deals with high-risk transmitters who have traits of the infection.

Alberta Health Services announced Monday it is working to increase its testing capacity to including anyone in the province who has COVID-19 like symptoms. The new measure includes those experiencing shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat, fever or cough. The province is also aiming to increase daily testing capacity from 7,400 per day to 20,000 by mid-May.

“If we do have the capacity in our lab left over after we are able to do all that testing for all symptomatic Albertans, then we can consider testing those who do not have symptoms,” Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in Tuesday’s COVID-19 update.

There is an issue with testing asymptomatic patients because a negative result from that person doesn’t mean they haven’t been exposed to the virus.

“If you have someone who has tested positive and we identified ten close contacts of that person and we test all of them at that moment they still would need to be under isolation for 14 days, whether they test positive or negative, because if they test negative at that moment in time, at that snapshot, they may still be incubating and develop the disease,” Hinshaw said.

Testing those showing no symptoms is an additional layer the province can add on to its current protocols, but for now, officials are discussing where the best place would be to utilize that capacity if there is enough left over after the expansion.