Information for Albertans

COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Alberta.

Last updated January 22, 2021

What Should I Do if I Think I Have COVID-19?|About COVID-19|Spread|Risk| How to Care for COVID-19 Patient at Home| Resources for Specific Health Conditions| How to Prepare|Physical Distancing|Public Health Meausres|Travellers|Prevent the Spread|Symptoms|COVID-19 vs. Influenza| Test Results & Next Steps|Changes in Health Services

Latest News from Alberta.ca

Latest news releases and actions being taken to protect the health of Albertans. (more)

What Should I Do If I Think I Have COVID-19?

  • If you have symptoms you MUST isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms.
  • If you have returned from travel outside of Canada you MUST quarantine for 14 days following your return and monitor yourself for symptoms (unless you are participating in the International Border Pilot Project)
  • If you are a close contact of a case of COVID-19, you MUST quarantine for 14 days following your exposure and monitor yourself for symptoms, even if you get tested and your result is negative.
  • If you are in isolation or quarantine you must follow Alberta’s mandatory isolation and quarantine requirements.
  • Complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment to determine if you should receive testing for COVID-19. As of October 14, 2020 drop-in testing is no longer available.
  • Most family physicians in Alberta are continuing to provide services during COVID-19.
  • Patients should continue to consult with their family physician for non-urgent health concerns, including care for chronic conditions and any new health concerns unrelated to COVID-19.
  • Please call your physician's office before attending in person to determine whether in-person or virtual care is the best option. If you do not have a family doctor, please visit AlbertaFindADoctor.ca.
  • If your symptoms worsen, or you have concerns about your health or questions about COVID-19, call Health Link 811.
  • Call 911 if you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention. Inform them that you may have COVID-19.

If you are in mandatory isolation or quarantine:

  • If you are in quarantine because you recently came back from outside the country, or you are a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, you must remain in your quarantine location. Under no circumstance should you leave your quarantine location during the 14 days of quarantine except in emergencies.
  • Do not go outside for a walk through your neighbourhood or park. This includes children in mandatory isolation or quarantine.
  • You can get fresh air in your backyard, if you have one, but you must remain on private property not accessible by others.
  • If you live in an apartment building or highrise, you must stay inside and cannot use the elevators or stairwells to go outside. If your balcony is private and at least two metres away from your closest neighbour's, you may go outside on the balcony.
  • This directive is consistent with the new federal requirements under the Quarantine Act.

Back to top

About COVID-19

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illness in humans, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Others cause illness in animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, a new virus that was first recognized in December 2019.

Back to top

Spread

COVID-19 is passed from person–to-person through tiny droplets of liquid, spread by coughing, sneezing, talking, laughing and singing. This means that a person would need to have contact with droplets from an infected person or contaminated surfaces, in order to be exposed to COVID-19.

The time that a person can spread COVID-19 to others is called the infectious period.

For a person with COVID-19 who has symptoms, the infectious period is 48 hours before the start of symptoms until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. For some people this may be longer. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

For a person with COVID-19 who had no symptoms when they were tested, the infectious period is 48 hours before they had their test done, to 10 days after the date of their test (if they remain symptom free). If the person develops symptoms after having their test, they are infectious to others for the duration of their symptoms. For most people, this is until 10 days after the start of their symptoms. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

Back to top

Risk

A higher risk of COVID-19 infection exists for people who develop a fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat or runny nose AND who also meet any of the criteria below.

In the 14 days before illness onset, they:

Travelled to anywhere outside of Canada;

OR

Had close contact* with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19;

OR

Had close contact* with a person with acute respiratory illness who has travelled anywhere outside of Canada within 14 days prior to illness onset;

OR

Had laboratory exposure to biological material (e.g. primary clinical specimens, virus culture isolates) known to contain COVID-19 virus.

Anyone meeting these criteria must stay home and avoid contact with others. See Isolation and Quarantine for more information.

*A close contact is anyone who, during the infectious period:

  • lived with or was within two metres of a person with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more of cumulative contact, i.e  multiple interactions for a total of 15 minutes or more, even if a mask was worn during that contact, or .
  • has had direct contact with bodily fluids of a person who has COVID-19 (e.g., was coughed or sneezed on), or
  • provided direct care for a person who has COVID-19, or
  • has physical contact with a person who has COVID-19, such as handshake, hugging, kissing, or sexual activity, or
  • shares items with a person who has COVID-19, such as drinks, personal hygiene items, cigarettes, vapes, lipstick, eating utensils, etc.

Anyone who falls into any of the above categories is considered a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19. Wearing a non-medical mask is not sufficient to exempt you from being considered a close contact

Consistent and appropriate use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by regulated health care professionals must be assessed to determine if the individual had adequate protection from a potential COVID-19 exposure.

Learn more: Close Contacts

Back to top

How to Care for a COVID-19 Patient at Home

​If you are caring for a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, follow this advice to protect yourself and others in the home, as well as those in your community.

Back to top

Resources for Specific Health Conditions

​This section contains resources for Albertans and caregivers dealing with specific health conditions and disabilities/special needs

Back to top

How to Prepare & Respond

Alberta public health officials are recommending Albertans prepare and respond to COVID-19 by creating a household plan of action:

  • Talk with the people who need to be included in your plan. Have these conversations over the phone, by email or text. Follow physical distancing guidelines.
  • Talk to your household members, relatives, friends and neighbours about what the needs of each person will be, if they need to enter isolation or quarantine, or are diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Plan ways to care for those who might be at greater risk for serious complications. This includes practical steps like ensuring you have sufficient medication and determining what supplies are needed, and if they can be delivered.
  • Talk with your neighbours about emergency planning, and how you can help each other to stay safe and healthy – or support one another if your household or theirs is required to quarantine or isolate. Again, have these conversations over the phone, by email or text – following physical distancing guidelines.
  • Regularly reach out to those in isolation or quarantine. A lack of social contact can cause mental health challenges, and we need to support those most vulnerable.
  • Create a list of local organizations that you and your household can contact in the event you need access to information, health care services, support, and resources.
  • Create an emergency contact list.

Practice good personal health habits and plan for home-based actions:

  • Practice everyday preventive actions, like those listed in the prevention section.
  • Choose a room in your home that can be used to separate sick household members from those who are healthy. Identify a separate bathroom for the sick person to use, if possible. Plan to clean these rooms, as needed, when someone is sick, following the Cleaning Guidelines available above.

Plan for potential changes at your workplace.

  • Learn about your employer’s emergency operations plan.
  • Ask about what sick-leave policies and telework options are available if needed.

Stockpiling of goods is not recommended at this time. While it’s always best practice to have three days' worth of supplies on-hand, public health officials are not recommending Albertans purchase food or other materials in bulk.

Resources:

Back to top

Physical Distancing

  • Stay at least 2 metres/6 feet away from others
  • Wear a mask in public and in all indoor workplaces
  • Avoid overcrowded public spaces
  • Limit the number of people you come into close contact with
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Have your groceries or other items delivered, if possible, if you are at high risk of severe disease

(Translated videos)

Back to top

Enhanced Public Health Measures

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Alberta has implemented enhanced public health restrictions.

Effective Jan. 18, some provincial restrictions will be eased:.

  • Outdoor social gatherings are allowed up to 10 people. Indoor gatherings remain prohibited.
  • Personal and wellness services are allowed to open by appointment only
  • Funeral ceremony attendance has been increased to 20 people, with mandatory masking and 2 metre physical distancing. Funeral receptions are not allowed.

All other mandatory restrictions will reamin in place until further notice.

Back to top

Contact with a Confirmed Case of COVID-19

If you were in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days you are required to quarantine and limit your contact with others for 14 days.

Back to top

Info for Travellers

Departing Alberta

Albertans are NOT recommended to travel outside of the country at this time.

  • As of Jan. 7, 2021, proof of a negative COVID-19 test result must be presented (either paper or electronic proof of result) to an airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada.
  • All travellers who have been in the United Kingdom or South Africa in the last 14 days should:
    • get tested even if you don't have symptoms, AHS will contact you directly to book a test
    • quarantine immediately, even if you tested negative as part of the border pilot program

If you require proof of a negative COVID-19 test result prior to travel, all Albertans can access a new COVID-19 travel testing service offered by Dynalife Medical Labs for $150 per traveller.

Additional Resources:

Returning to Alberta

  • Effective March 25, 2020 the Government of Canada has implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine, under the Quarantine Act, for travellers returning to Canada.
  • All travellers who returned to Alberta from outside Canada in the last 14 days are required to quarantine immediately for 14 days after the date of return and monitor for symptoms.
  • Note: mandatory public health measures are in effect provincewide as of Dec. 8, 2020. If you do not have a household in Alberta, you must not stay in other people’s homes while these restrictions are in place. Out-of-town visitors cannot stay in other people's homes while these restrictions are in place, regardless of where they are coming from.

If you have symptoms, see this section for more information.

International Border Pilot Testing Program

  • As of Jan. 7, 2021, proof of a negative COVID-19 test result must be presented (either paper or electronic proof of result) to an airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada.
  • All border pilot participants arriving from the U.K. or South Africa within the last 14 days must quarantine immediately, even if you tested negative.
  • New arrivals from the U.K. or South Africa are not eligible to participate in the border pilot.

Effective Nov. 2, 2020 a pilot project between the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada provides a new option for travellers entering Alberta through either the Calgary International Airport or the Coutts Border Crossing.

Specifically, asymptomatic international travellers arriving at the Calgary International Airport or the Coutts Border Crossing (between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.), and either residing in Alberta or staying within Alberta for the duration of their visit to Canada, will be provided with the opportunity to sign-up for this pilot and be excluded from the full duration and scope of the mandatory 14 day isolation period currently in place for all international travelers coming into Canada.

Overview of Pilot Process

  • Potential participants apply to the pilot project using a (non-AHS) third-party web-based application prior to their arrival in Alberta;
  • Those selected for the pilot are then swabbed at the Calgary International Airport or Coutts border, immediately upon arrival; Symptomatic or COVID-positive applicants will not be permitted to participate.
  • Participants are required to enter their symptoms into the third-party app, every day for the first seven days.
  • Participants will receive their test result by email or text message. If you choose to receive your test result by email, the message will be encrypted for your privacy. Learn more about viewing encrypted test results.
  • If on the sixth or seventh day the participant remains asymptomatic, the participant must call a participating pharmacy to book an appointment to obtain a second swab.
    • NOTE: Pilot participants who develop symptoms will be referred to www.ahs.ca/ibptest to book a test through AHS. Participating pharmacies will not swab symptomatic individuals.
  • If the second swab is negative, participants will continue to symptom track in the online app for the remaining seven days, and return to most normal activities; however, it is important to note that despite negative COVID results, participants cannot enter a hospital or congregate or group living environment, be in contact with individuals who are at risk of more severe disease, or attend gatherings of more than 10 people, until the full 14 days has passed.
  • If second swab is positive: participants must isolate immediately, and follow all guidance of AHS Public Health.

Note: AHS and Covenant employees, members of the medical and midwifery staff, students, volunteers, and contracted service providers, will be permitted to participate in the pilot program; however, they will not be permitted to return to work at any AHS, Covenant, or community locations, including licensed supportive living facilities or any residential facility offering hospice services, until 14 days after returning from travel outside of Canada.

These individuals must adhere to the AHS and employer fit for work screening and the isolation requirements as determined by the return to work decision chart. Where feasible, working remotely while isolating may be permitted with leader approval.

Back to top

Prevent the Spread

Help protect you and your family against all respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19 and influenza:

Practice good hygiene

  • Stay home if you are feeling sick
  • Wash or sanitize your hands often
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched

Practice physical distancing

Wearing Masks

Effective December 8, 2020: Masks are required in all indoor public places, places of worship, and indoor workplaces, unless you qualify for an exception, masks are required.

When sick, wearing a mask helps prevent us from passing illnesses on to other people. This is why we ask people who have a cough or respiratory symptoms to wear a mask and wash their hands when visiting an emergency department or clinic.

Wearing a homemade or non-medical mask has not been proven to protect the person wearing it. However, wearing a non-medical mask may be helpful in protecting others around you, especially when you do not have symptoms. This is because face coverings are another way to cover your mouth and nose to prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating other people or surfaces. Additionally, wearing a mask may stop you from touching your nose and mouth.

When wearing a non-medical mask or face covering:

  • Ensure your mask is well-fitted and does not gape at the sides.
  • Be aware that masks can become contaminated on the outside. Avoid moving or adjusting the mask. Assume the mask has been contaminated and take proper precautions.
  • Critically, if you wear a mask, you must wash your hands before putting it on, as well as before and after taking it off.
  • Cloth masks should be worn only a short time, as there is some evidence that they can trap virus particles after they become damp, which may put the wearer at greater risk.
  • For those choosing to wear non-medical masks, it may be prudent to carry a bag with several clean masks in it, as well as a plastic bag that can be used to safely store used masks until they can be washed at home.
  • It is critical that used masks be carefully handled to avoid spreading infection to others.

Back to top

Symptoms

Symptoms for COVID-19 are similar to those for influenza or other respiratory illnesses. See below for symptoms for adults, children and everyone.

Adults

Anyone over the age of 18 who has the following symptoms are legally required to isolate and should be tested for COVID-19.

  • fever
  • new onset of cough or worsening chronic cough
  • new or worsening shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • sore throat
  • runny nose

If you are not tested for COVID-19, you MUST isolate for 10 days following the start of these symptoms and until you are feeling better (whichever is longer). If you are tested, further instructions are available at ahs.ca/results based on your test results.

People with other symptoms are also recommended to be tested. These include:

  • chills
  • painful swallowing
  • stuffy nose
  • headache
  • muscle or joint ache
  • feeling unwell, fatigue or severe exhaustion
  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or unexplained loss of appetite
  • loss of sense of smell or taste
  • conjunctivitis (pink eye)

If you have these symptoms, it is strongly advised that you stay home and minimize contact with others until you are feeling better. Complete the COVID-19 Self-Assessment choosing the COVID-19 Testing / Online Booking button for more information.

Children

Symptoms of runny nose and sore throat have been removed from the mandatory isolation checklist for Albertans under 18, as well as individuals 18 years and over attending high school, whether they are attending classes, day care or recreational activities.

For a child with no known exposures to COVID-19 or international travel in the past 14 days:

  • If the child has any of the following symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of sense of smell or taste:
    • The child is to isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms.
    • Testing is recommended.
  • If the child has a negative test result and they are feeling better, they can resume normal activities, even if the 10 days is not completed.

If the child has ONE of: chills; sore throat or painful swallowing; runny nose or congestion; feeling unwell or fatigue; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; unexplained loss of appetite; muscle or joint aches; headache; conjunctivitis:

  • The child should stay home and monitor for 24 hours.
  • If their symptom is improving after 24 hours, they can return to school/activities when they feel well enough to go. Testing is not necessary.
  • If the symptom worsens after 24 hours (or if additional symptoms emerge), testing is recommended but not required. The child can return to activities and school when:
    • their symptoms have resolved AND it’s been at least 24 hours since their symptoms started.

If the child has any TWO of: chills; sore throat or painful swallowing; runny nose or congestion; feeling unwell or fatigue; nausea, vomiting, diarrhea; unexplained loss of appetite; muscle or joint aches; headache; conjunctivitis:

  • The child should stay home.
  • Testing is recommended but not required.
    • The child can attend school/daycare and other public places when their symptoms have resolved AND it’s been 24 hours or more since their symptoms started.

The child with any symptoms should not visit a congregate living or acute care facility for 10 days from when symptom(s) started or until they go away (whichever is longer), unless they receive a negative COVID-19 test result and are feeling better.

Everyone

Everyone (including those under 18 years of age) in mandatory isolation and in need of COVID-19 testing, or critical care for pre-existing medical conditions or emergency care, should carefully follow the rules in the exemption orders.

  • Pre-arrange your appointment and leaving your isolation area only on the date and at the time of your appointment.
  • Follow all instructions provided by 811 or health-care providers.
  • Use private transportation where practical.
  • Maintain physical distance from others when shared transportation is necessary – travel directly to your appointment with no stops.
  • Follow instructions provided by 911 if you require emergency care.

If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and advise them that you may have COVID-19. Do not visit a hospital, doctor’s office, lab or healthcare facility for non-urgent medical needs without consulting Health Link 811 first.

Back to top

COVID-19 vs. Influenza

In some ways, COVID-19 is similar to influenza (also known as the flu):

  • Both COVID-19 and the flu cause respiratory disease.
  • Both are spread the same way, via small droplets from the nose and mouth.
  • Neither one is spread through the air over long distances and times, unlike a disease like the measles.

However, there are some key differences between COVID-19 and the flu:

  • The flu and COVID-19 are different viruses.
  • Both have similar symptoms and it can be difficult to tell the difference between influenza and COVID-19 symptoms.
  • COVID-19 and influenza spread differently
    • mainly people with COVID-19 symptoms seem to be spreading the disease, but asymptomatic transmission is possible and symptoms may be very mild, so transmission is possible even if the person is feeling well
    • controlling its spread is possible when people with symptoms are isolated
  • We currently have no specific treatment for COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 causes severe disease in a higher percentage of cases than seasonal influenza. Estimates of mortality in COVID-19 cases depend on many things, but on average they range from about 1-2 deaths per 100 people infected. By comparison, seasonal influenza is deadly in about 1 in every 1000 who are infected.
  • Because COVID-19 can cause such a serious illness, it is critical to keep it from spreading by having people with a cough or fever stay home and away from others.

Find more information on symptoms of COVID-19.

Back to top

Test Results & Next Steps

If you have been tested for COVID-19, it is important that you understand what to do while you await your tests results, and what it means if your COVID-19 test is positive or negative.

Find more information on Advice for People Tested for COVID-19.

Back to top

Changes in Health Services

As the COVID-19 situation continues to evolve, AHS is adjusting our response measures and supports. We continue to ensure we have the capacity to handle the anticipated surge in patients related to COVID-19.

Decisions have been made while ensuring AHS has the staff, equipment (including personal protective equipment) and beds available for any changes which may result in increased demand on our healthcare system caused by COVID-19.

We recognize that these are difficult, stressful times and that any change in service may be concerning. Our number one priority is protecting the health of Albertans, and in this extraordinary situation, we must take significant steps to do so.

Edmonton Zone Update

COVID-19 activity is continuing to increase in Edmonton and the surrounding area and this is impacting system capacity.

On October 23, 2020, Edmonton Zone postponed approximately 30 per cent of scheduled surgeries, adjusting ambulatory visits as required and accessing support from other Zones if needed. Urgent, emergent and cancer surgeries continued.

On December 8, 2020 Edmonton Zone announced additional temporary measures include postponing as much as 60 per cent of scheduled surgeries that require a hospital stay, and reducing ambulatory visits as required. We will maintain emergent, urgent access and prioritized cancer surgeries with all activity fitting within the assigned surge plan bed base.

Taking these additional measures provide additional system capacity and enable the continued provision of safe patient care

Resumption of Diagnostic Imaging and Ambulatory Clinic Services

  • During the early part of the pandemic, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Covenant Health temporarily a reduction in “in person” patients seen in Diagnostic Imaging (DI) and Ambulatory Clinic services across the zones by up to approximately 60 per cent with a commensurate increase in virtual visits.
  • To ensure we maintain adequate resources over and above the requirements for COVID-19, we continue to conduct weekly assessments of the service resumption plans and adapt as required.
  • We will maintain all current COVID-19 public health orders and infection prevention and control standards and processes, including physical distancing, continuous masking and visitor guidelines.
  • Patients attending a scheduled appointment will receive a pre-screening phone call to assess fitness to attend appointments and will be given instruction for attendance based on provincial public health guidelines. In cases where patients cannot be reached, they will be screened upon arrival for their appointments. Patients attending appointments for Ambulatory Care or DI will also need to follow the AHS visitor guidelines.
  • At all times we will continue to reserve sufficient capacity to respond to the pandemic.

Surgical Recovery Plan

  • AHS is currently operating at 88 per cent of pre-COVID-19 surgical activity and will increase this activity as part of a Surgical Recovery Plan developed and aligned with the Alberta Surgical Initiative (ASI).
  • AHS postponed all non-urgent, scheduled surgeries in March to free up hospital beds in advance of an expected surge in patients with COVID-19. Some of these postponed activities resumed in May.
  • We are grateful for the patience of those Albertans who had their surgeries and procedures delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It was a necessary step to ensure our healthcare system was prepared for COVID-19.
  • Working in partnership with Alberta Health with this Surgical Recovery Plan, we are ensuring patients and families receive the surgery they need, when they need it, according to best practices and target benchmarks.
  • The plan can be adjusted, as necessary, to help the health system respond to potential increased health system demand caused by COVID-19.
  • Safety is the utmost priority and increases in surgery activity will happen providing it is safe and appropriate to do so.
  • We will continue to ensure emergent and urgent surgeries are maintained while steadily increasing the number of surgeries, balancing the safety of patients and staff with the need to resume surgeries for Albertans waiting for care.
  • Decisions on which surgeries proceed are based on clinical need and those being most in need and waiting longest being booked first. These decisions are being made at the zone level, and are also informed by the pandemic response in different parts of the province.
  • Patients will be contacted directly when it is time to receive their surgery.
  • We will maintain all current COVID-19 public health orders and infection prevention and control standards and processes, including physical distancing and visitor guidelines.
  • We understand that many of you will be anxious to hear from AHS on your surgery or procedure. We ask for your patience. Please do not call 811 or the clinic for information. You will be contacted by AHS.

Changes to Lab Services During COVID-19

We are working hard to deploy our laboratory resources in the safest and most efficient way possible as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) and DynaLIFE Medical Labs have implemented changes in order to meet Public Health guidelines while providing high-quality laboratory services for all Albertans.

Extra safety precautions, combined with challenges maintaining appropriate staffing levels, have resulted in longer than normal wait times for lab service in many communities. Please read the following information to ensure you access necessary lab testing as quickly as possible, and that you are prepared for your visit to the lab:

  • Patients are strongly encouraged to book appointments for lab work. This assists us to better manage the flow of patients and help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Important Reminder: If you are unable to attend your appointment for any reason, please ensure you cancel it so that it will be available for others who require lab services.
  • Because the wait time for appointments is longer than we would like, many labs also provide same-day service for walk-in patients. View available laboratory locations, hours and walk-in service hours.
  • Immunocompromised patients and those requiring urgent testing should phone the province-wide Patient Appointment Line: 1-877-868-6848 for assistance.
  • New safety processes are in place to help protect our clients and staff as we help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. Read more about Collection Site Safety.

We strive to ensure our labs and patient service centres are always safe places for everyone. Please be respectful and follow the directions of our staff, as they are there to help you receive the healthcare service you need.

AHS and Alberta Health will provide updates as new information becomes available.

Back to top

AHS Staff & Health Professionals

Community Physicians

Health Order Violations

To protect the health and safety of Albertans, law enforcement agencies now have full authority to enforce public health orders and issue fines for violations.

Help Healthcare Staff

Outbreak Tracker Map

Real time map tracking COVID-19 global cases.

Real Time Outbreak Tracker Map