If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should assume you have the virus and isolate. That’s the latest from Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, who announced Monday that PCR test eligibility is being restricted in the province due to the system being flooded.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw says PCR testing will now be focused on people in high-risk settings or at high risk of severe outcomes. Anyone not eligible is asked to cancel their appointment. A list of those eligible is available on the Alberta government website.

Hinshaw is also encouraging employers not to require a PCR test for sick leave because anyone who has symptoms certainly has COVID.

People who are fully vaccinated are legally required to isolate for five days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing condition. For five days after that, they should wear a mask at all times when around others outside of their home.

Anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated is required to isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or until they resolve, whichever is longer, if symptoms are not related to a pre-existing condition. If they test negative and have symptoms, they should still stay home and away from others until symptoms resolve.

Over the past three days, Alberta has identified 17,577 new cases of COVID-19, for a positivity rate of around 38 per cent. This does not include results from rapid tests.

“Assume that we’re seeing at least ten times or more the number of cases that we’re currently finding through testing,” says Hinshaw.

635 Albertans are in hospital due to COVID-19 with 72 in the ICU. Six new COVID-19 deaths have also been reported.