EDMONTON -- Alberta Health has updated its list of COVID-19 symptoms for children in school and daycare.

On Monday, Chief Medical Officer of Health. Dr. Deena Hinshaw said health officials were studying the possibility to adjust this list after B.C., Ontario and Quebec updated theirs and did not see an uptick in school cases.

Starting Monday, if your child only has a runny nose or a sore throat, they won't be told to stay home and get tested for the coronavirus.

In the last week alone, Dr. Hinshaw said Alberta Health Services tested approximately 700 minors who had only a sore throat, and less than one per cent of them tested positive.

Similarly, AHS tested 601 minors whose lone symptom was a runny nose, and less than 0.5 per cent had COVID-19.

“This shows us that these symptoms by themselves are very poor indicators of whether a child has the virus,” Hinshaw said.

“Based on our data so far, the risk of a child with just one of these symptoms has COVID is even lower if that child is not known to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19.”

This change, Hinshaw says, only applies for children with no exposure to the disease, but if your child is a close contact to a case and has a runny nose or a sore throat, they should get tested.


Alberta Health’s new approach will take into account the total number of symptoms a minor has.

If your child has one of the province’s core COVID-19 symptoms — cough, fever, shortness of breath, or the newly added loss of taste or smell — they must quarantine for 10 days, or have a negative test result or resolved symptoms.

“That is not changing,” Hinshaw said.

Also starting Monday, if a minor has one of any other symptom, Hinshaw recommends staying home to monitor their symptom for 24 hours.

“If a child has just a headache, they should stay home for the day, and if things improve they can return to school as soon as they’re feeling able to do so,” she said. “But if they have a headache and runny nose, then they should stay home and either get tested, or the symptoms go away completely.”

Albertans 18 years or older are still asked to use Alberta Health’s check list.

There are 730 active cases of COVID-19 at 249 schools across the province.