Advice for People Tested for COVID-19

COVID-19

Effective January 3, 2022: New isolation requirements in effect.

Last Updated: January 3, 2022

While Waiting for PCR Test Results

How to Get Test Results |SMS Text Message Consent |Positive Test Result| Return to Work or School|Negative Swab Test Result|Indeterminate or Invalid Result| Re-Testing Advice| Types of Tests| Rapid Test (Rapid Point-of-Care Test)| Blood Test (Serology Test)

While you are waiting for your test results:

  • If you have symptoms, you must isolate until you have had confirmation of a negative test and your symptoms are no longer present.
  • If you have no symptoms AND you have not travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days, you do not need to isolate.

How to Get Your COVID-19 Test Results

MyHealth Records

Albertans 14 years of age and older can get their COVID-19 test results in MyHealth Records. This is a secure Government of Alberta service that helps keep track of your health information. Register for a MyAlberta Digital ID to access MyHealth Records.

Access your Children’s Test Results on MyHealth Records

Parents can get their children’s COVID-19 test results by signing up for a MyHealth Records account, at alberta.ca/myhealthrecords.

  1. Parents: you will need to use your child’s personal health number and test date to get your child’s COVID-19 test results (within the last 30 days).
  2. Test results can be printed.

Autodialer & SMS Text Messages

Albertans can choose to get their COVID-19 test results over the phone through an autodialer system or by SMS text message.

You will be asked to consent to receive automated test results when you book your COVID-19 test. If you do not consent to receive test results through autodialer or SMS, someone from Alberta Health Services (AHS) will call you to tell you your test results.

Parents or guardians can give consent to get automated test results for children aged 17 years and younger. Each test result will be given by a phone call or text message. This means that multiple calls or texts may be sent to a single number provided for a family unit.


Timing

You could be called by an automated phone call any time between 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m., 7 days a week. SMS results are sent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means you may get your test result by SMS anytime within a 24 hour period, day or night.

Call Attempts

The autodialer will try calling you up to three times to give you your test results. A voice message will be left on the third and final attempt if the call is still not answered.

Please note: to get your test results by autodialer you will need to remove any anonymous call-blocking settings from your phone so that your phone can accept the call. Please also make sure you answer any anonymous calls and read texts from numbers that you do not recognize.

See SMS Text & Autodialer FAQ for more information.

SMS Text Message Consent

Why did I receive a text message from AHS?

AHS notifies people by text message to tell them their COVID-19 test result.

Why is AHS asking for my consent to send text messages to me?

When you book an appointment for your COVID-19 test, AHS will ask for your consent to tell you about your test result by text message or automated phone message. This ensures we give you the information you need, as quickly as possible.

What if I do not consent to receive text messages from AHS?

If you do not consent to receive your COVID-19 test result through text message or automated phone message, an AHS Public Health team member will call you to make sure you get your test results.

You Do Not Have To Isolate / Quarantine While Your Are Waiting for Your Test Result If:

  • you have not travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days and:
    • you have not tested positive on another test in the last 10 days such as a rapid test
    • you are waiting for results and you did not have symptoms when you were tested and do not have any now
    • you have symptoms of illness that are related to a pre-existing illness or health condition, and are not new.
    • you have tested negative for COVID-19 and have no symptoms of illness
    • you have tested negative for COVID-19 and have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, runny nose, or sore throat that is related to a pre-existing illness or health condition. We do always suggest you stay home when sick with any illness, until symptoms resolve; however, if your COVID-19 test is negative, this is not legally required.

If You Have a Positive Test Result

Follow these steps right away to help protect yourself and others around you.

Step 1: Isolate Right Away

You must isolate right away for at least 5 days if you are fully immunized, or 10 days if you are not fully immunized.

See Isolation & Quarantine for more information.

Step 2: Identify Close Contacts

Identify and tell your household and close contacts that you have COVID-19. Your close contacts are not legally required to quarantine.. They should monitor for symptoms and get tested if they develop symptoms.

For more information on how to determine who is a close contact, and what is recommended for them, visit Information for Close Contacts.

Step 3: Get Informed

Effective December 31, 2021, AHS is calling people who test positive for COVID-19, in the following priority groups to complete case investigation:

  • Patients in hospital
  • Residents and staff of congregate care settings (long term care, designated supportive living, lodges, hospices)
  • Healthcare workers
  • Residents and staff of congregate living settings (corrections, shelters)

If you have not consented to receive SMS text message or autodialer notifications from AHS, a member of the Public Health team will call you to tell you your test results.

If you are not in one of the priority groups listed above, you may get a notification call from AHS, as capacity allows. Follow isolation instructions in the SMS text or autodialer message you get from AHS, as well as the information and supports on this page.

Return to Work or School

If you test positive for COVID-19, do not return to work or school until your legal isolation period is over, which is at least 5 days if you are fully immunized, or 10 days if you are not fully immunized. This may be longer if you continue to experience symptoms.

A negative COVID-19 test, medical note, or release from isolation message from AHS are not required to return to school, work or activities once your isolation period is over. Find more information on who needs to isolate on the Government of Alberta website.

If You Have a Negative COVID-19 Test Result

  • If you have any symptoms, you should stay home until you feel better.
  • If your test is negative and you have returned from travel outside of Canada, you must continue to follow all mandatory federal quarantine and testing requirements.
  • Your test result is for that point in time only. It doesn’t tell you if you have had COVID-19 before.
  • Continue to follow all public health measures, Wash your hands carefully and often and monitor yourself for symptoms.
  • If you have developed new symptoms since your test, or if you develop new symptoms in the future, isolate and take the COVID-19 self-assessment online again, or call Health Link at 811 for advice.
  • AHS, Covenant Health and Alberta Precision Labs employees can refer to COVID-19 Return to Work Guide for AHS Healthcare Workers for instructions.

Indeterminate or Invalid Result

If we tell you that your COVID-19 result is indeterminate or invalid, we are sorry, but we are not able to accurately determine your test results. You need to get tested again. You must follow any isolation or federal quarantine directions you were given. To schedule another test, visit ahs.ca/testing.

Re-testing Advice

If you test positive you are required to isolate. You should not be tested again during your isolation period. Testing negative does not mean you can end isolation early.

Re-testing within 90 days of a positive test result is not recommended as long as you do not have new symptoms. Some people continue to test positive for up to 90 days after their infection. This does not mean you are still infectious.

If you have new COVID-19 symptoms within 90 days of completing your required isolation period, please speak with your healthcare provider if you have questions or call Health Link at 811 to speak with a registered nurse.

Types of COVID-19 Tests

There are different kinds of tests for COVID-19:

Viral test – these tests are done by collecting a swab, from your nose or throat, to look for the virus in different ways.

  • A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or nucleic acid test looks for the virus’ genetic material.
  • An antigen test looks for proteins on the virus. They're often called rapid tests, as they may give results in less than an hour

Antibody test (also called a serology test) – this is a blood test to look for antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19. These tests are not for the general public.

Rapid Tests (aka Point-of-Care Test or Rapid Antigen Test)

Rapid Test Kits for At-Home Use

Albertans can get free COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits for at-home use through the Government of Alberta. They are available at select AHS sites and pharmacies across the province, as well as through some workplaces and schools.

Rapid tests are intended for at-home personal use for screening in symptomatic and asymptomatic people.

This can help identify infections early to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

To ensure PCR testing is available to those who need it most, only people at high risk of severe outcomes or who work in high-risk settings need to book a follow-up PCR test if they get a positive result on a rapid test. For more information, see Rapid Testing at Home.

A rapid test looks for a protein from the virus that causes COVID-19, and is a simple test that does not require specialized equipment and can produce a result in as little as 15 minutes. A PCR test looks for the genetic material of the virus that causes COVID-19. PCR tests can only be done in a lab, by an expert, and it can take one to three days to generate a test result.

Screening using rapid tests identifies some, but not all COVID-19 cases.

COVID-19 Assessment Centres and Other Settings

In AHS COVID-19 assessment centres, rapid tests are used for people who have symptoms, to quickly identify cases. In the community, rapid point-of-care testing (POCT) may also be done in outbreak settings on patients with or without symptoms.

If you are eligible and consent to receive a rapid POCT COVID-19 test at an assessment centre, two swabs will be collected at your appointment, because some results will require extra testing by the lab.

How you get your results from the assessment centres will depend on the consent you gave when you booked your test (e.g. SMS text or phone call):

  • Positive test result: You will receive your result by text message or phone call within 1 to 3 hours telling you to isolate.
  • "Result to follow" test result: Your swab needs extra lab confirmation, as the test can't rule out COVID-19. You will get a text message or call within 5 to 6 hours telling you to keep isolating until you receive another text message or call with the confirmed lab test result, typically within 48 hours.

Blood Test for COVID-19 (serology test)

Serology testing for COVID-19 is used mostly to assess the number of people in Alberta that have antibodies to COVID-19 for research or specific medical reasons. It is not available for the general public.

Serology testing cannot be used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection and is not used to determine immunity from a COVID-19 vaccine.