COVID-19 testing now prioritizes highest-risk groups
Alberta is reporting 33 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of people who have been diagnosed with the virus to 259 as of Sunday afternoon.
Alberta has been among provinces that have tested people with less severe symptoms, a measure that some experts said was key to detecting community spread of the virus.
The testing policy change goes into effect immediately but tests will be conducted on anyone who has been previously told by Health Link that they will be tested. The province asks anyone who is sick to self-isolate at home and stay away from others.
"Absolutely this is a concern that public health is addressing", she said.
Groups who will receive higher testing priority will include those hospitalized with a respiratory illness, those in continuing care facilities and health-care workers with respiratory symptoms.
"We're helping physicians provide care to Albertans during this critical time while also keeping them as safe as possible", said Health Minister Tyler Shandro. That, she said, could help them get back to work more quickly if they are cleared.
Anyone who has travelled outside of the country is asked to self-isolate for 14 days to monitor for symptoms, even if they are feeling well.
"This is consistent with the approach happening across Canada".
And as Dr. Hinshaw's message that seems to be kind of getting lost, naturally, in this COVID-19 issue is that, the most important thing that individuals can do is not get a test. That means 301 cases have been identified in the province, she told the briefing. Three patients have recovered.
The province's online self-assessment tool has been updated to reflect the change in testing for returning travellers. It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources.