International travellers arriving at the Calgary International Airport may now forgo the mandated 14-day quarantine period and elect to take a test instead.
A new pilot project, conducted in partnership with the provincial and federal government, is offering rapid tests exclusively at the Calgary International Airport and the Coutts border crossing in southern Alberta.
The program offers travellers the option to get a test and self-isolate for 24 to 48 hours while they await their results. Once confirmed negative for the novel coronavirus, the traveller may leave self-isolation on the condition that they remain in Alberta for 14 days, get another COVID-19 test within the next six to seven days and complete daily symptom checks.
If the pilot project proves successful, there are plans to expand it to other airports and ports of entry across the country.
Dr. Vanessa Meier-Stephenson, an infectious disease expert at the University of Calgary, says the pilot program makes her "quite nervous."
"We are putting a lot of trust in people to adhere to a lot of these rules," said Meier-Stephenson. "The incubation period certainly suggests we may be falsely giving ourselves a sense of security with these negative tests.
"We have seen time and time again, up to 14 days from an exposure someone could acquire and develop symptoms of coronavirus."
Travellers — Canadian citizens, permanent residents or foreign nationals currently permitted entry into Canada — who are without symptoms are eligible for the testing.
Private COVID-19 tests are also available to anyone in Alberta for the purpose of leaving the province for essential travel abroad.
For a fee of $150, Edmonton-based Dynalife Medical labs offers travellers rapid testing with results expected within 72 hours. The private testing results provides essential travellers with proof that they've tested negative for the virus when they arrive at their destination.