Pharmacies in every community across Alberta have joined, and continue to join, the fight against COVID-19 by offering asymptomatic testing.
On behalf of all Albertans, I thank every one of the community pharmacies who are on the front line of identifying COVID-19 cases. People who have no symptoms can still infect others, and the sooner we identify them and trace their contacts, the more we can limit the spread in our communities.
The Pharmacy Asymptomatic Testing Program has been growing steadily since we announced the first 20 pharmacies on a trial basis on June 25. I was thrilled to expand the program on July 30, making it open to any Alberta pharmacy. By August 18th, about 125 pharmacies were providing asymptomatic testing in communities from Airdrie to Vilna. That more than doubled when all Shoppers Drug Marts and pharmacies in other Loblaw-owned stores came on board.
More pharmacies continue to join the program every day. For example, 14 Pharmasave locations offer testing now, and more locations are expected in the coming weeks. I’m sure other pharmacies are thinking about offering testing, and I encourage all pharmacies to register with the program. The more participating pharmacies the better, because that means more people can get tested close to home.
That is the whole point of the Pharmacy Asymptomatic Testing Program – to make testing more easily available close to home. There is no need to travel somewhere else if your community or neighbourhood already has a pharmacy that offers testing. In fact, it is safer for everyone to limit travel and get tested close to home. I urge everyone to support your local pharmacy and get tested there.
I remind everyone that you can only go for testing at your community pharmacy if you do not have symptoms. People with symptoms must book their test through Alberta Health Services.
For many of us, the Pharmacy Asymptomatic Testing Program is our first stop in slowing the pandemic. I urge everyone without symptoms to get tested at your nearest participating pharmacy. And every day, continue to practice physical distancing, wear a mask when you can’t, and wash or sanitize your hands frequently. We are all in this fight together, and together we will make it through this.