EDMONTON -- Alberta is changing its COVID-19 testing protocols to make better use of its capacity.

Priority will now be given to at-risk populations and people with the highest risk of community exposure that are showing symptoms of the virus.

"Our new approach reflects the fact that the most important thing anyone can do if they have mild symptoms isn’t to get tested – it’s to stay home and self-isolate,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a written release.

Priority will be given to the following:

  • People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness.
  • Residents of continuing care and other similar facilities.
  • People who returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and March 12 (before the self-isolation protocols were in place).
  • Health-care workers with respiratory symptoms.

Travellers who have mild symptoms will no longer be automatically tested. They will still be asked to self-isolate for a minimum of ten days from when their symptoms started.

As of Sunday, Alberta had 259 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Officials believe 16 of the cases are due to community spread.