Strong demand for rapid tests leaves some Albertans empty-handed

The first day of Alberta’s rollout of free, at-home COVID-19 rapid test kits saw demand greatly exceed supply in many areas.

Alberta Health Services confirmed that its sites in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Pincher Creek and Coaldale ran out of test kits in short order.

More than 400 kits were distributed in each of those four communities within the AHS South Zone and AHS says additional test kits will be available in the coming days.

Hopeful test kit recipients in Calgary braved the cold and lined up outside of pharmacies throughout the city Friday morning.

Hanna Eirich was among those fortunate enough to secure a kit at the Shoppers Drug Mart near the intersection of Heritage Drive and Fairmont Drive S.E. She wasn’t surprised by the large turnout.

“I think people are really excited for the holidays and want to make sure that they’re safe,” said Eirich. “We actually just had a baby and he’s in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) right now. So we’re trying to be extra, extra safe.”

Reports from customers at several other Shoppers Drug Marts in Calgary indicated those pharmacies were awaiting authorization from the company’s head office before they began distributing.

Other pharmacies indicated their shipments of tests had yet to arrive.

The province had said 500,000 rapid test kits would be made available at more than 1,000 pharmacies located in either Calgary, Edmonton or Red Deer as well as at AHS sites throughout the rest of the province.

Albertans are permitted to pick up a single free kit, comprised of five tests, for themselves once within a 14-day period and may also pick up kits for others as long as they can provide the health care numbers for all recipients.

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