Province expanding testing eligibility to any Albertan with fever, sore throat, cough

Province expanding testing eligibility to any Albertan with fever, sore throat, cough

Alberta declares 81 new COVID-19 cases, provincial total at 1,732

Anyone in Alberta with a runny nose, cough, fever or sore threat – all symptoms of COVID-19 is now eligible for testing.

The province has capacity to test about 7,400 tests in 24 hours, that means there is room to test more people, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health Monday.

“You’ve previously heard me say we were not able to test every Albertan with a cough or runny nose but we believe we’re now at a point that we can do so,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.

Hinshaw said the province will now test anyone in Alberta who has a fever, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or sore throat.

Alberta’s testing capacity is about 7,400 tests per day. Hinshaw said the goal is to increase this capacity to about 9,000 by the end of the month and by mid-May to about 20,000 per day.

Alberta government declared 81 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the provincial total to 1,732.

Officials reported two additional deaths Monday, bringing the total deaths to 46. The two recent deaths are in the Calgary zone.

Central zone has 74 cases as of Monday, an increase of two since Sunday.

City of Red Deer has 32 cases: 12 active and 20 recovered.

City of Lacombe has two recovered cases, while Lacombe County has four recovered cases.

Red Deer County has 12 cases: six active and six recovered.

Ponoka County has one recovered case, and so does Clearwater County.

Calgary zone has 1,114 confirmed cases, followed by Edmonton at 399. North and south zones case numbers are at 105 and 33 respectively.

The number of recovered cases in the province is at 877 – 54 more than Sunday.

Of the total cases, officials believe about 254 cases are a result of community transmission.

Even though the testing eligibility has been expanded, Hinshaw asked people feeling sick to stay – a critical first step, take the self-assessment test, and arrange testing online.

With the increased testing, the every day case numbers may increase, Hinshaw said.

Referring to the testing eligibility expansion, in the last few weeks, she noted the case numbers have already been high. But the overall percent of the confirmed cases remains about the same.

“The percentage of tests that have come back positive has been about two per cent for the past several weeks, this indicates the rate of infection has remained relatively stable over the last while,” she explained.

“Another thing we look at is the rate of hospitalization, which is currently a more accurate indicator of the trend than our total case numbers. This is because as I mentioned, our total case numbers are determined by our testing eligibility which has changed over the last 10 days.”

In the coming days, the province will release hospitalization trends to provide a better picture of the spread over the past several weeks.

Alberta’s every day case numbers are lower than theoretical modelling, but the distancing has to continue, Hinshaw encouraged Albertans to keep doing the right thing.

“The reason we’re more successful than other jurisdictions is because Albertans have and are more willing to make sacrifices, to protect their neighbours and their loved ones,” she explained.

“This distancing will not last forever and we’re in active discussions about what kinds of things we might be able to ease up on if we continue to have a trend of numbers that are declining over a several week period.”

She explained if the measures are lifted “too soon we could undo all of the work and all of the sacrifices we’ve collectively made to get to this point.”

Hinshaw said she believes events or large gatherings where people come together in one place will be restricted for sometime.

“However restrictions like other activities and workplaces, we’re looking at that, (to see) how we can ease off on those in the appropriate time.”

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