Alberta investing in new equipment to double COVID-19 testing

Health Minister Tyler Shandro announced a $4.5-million investment in new virus detecting equipment Tuesday.

The technology will double COVID-19 testing capacity from 7,000 to 16,000 per day by June, said Shandro.

The funding includes a $1.7-million donation by the Calgary Health Trust, with Alberta Health Services and the government of Alberta making up the balance.

The government is also expanding the number of health-care practitioners who are able to assist in contact tracing.

With this expansion, other workers, including chiropractors, paramedics, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists, pharmacists and dental hygienists, will be able to take on this role after they complete training.

“There’s a high demand of contact tracing and the need has exceeded AHS’s ability to recruit to do this work,” said Shandro.

The province confirmed 57 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total to 5,893. Alberta’s recovered case number is 3,219.

Officials confirmed two COVID-19 deaths Tuesday. The total number of deaths in the province is 106.

The central zone’s death number remains at one. The central zone case numbers remain the same as Monday: 89.

The city of Red Deer remains at 36 cases: five active, 31 recovered.

Red Deer County has 13 cases: two active, 11 recovered.

The City of Lacombe has two recovered cases.

Lacombe County has three recovered cases, while Ponoka County has two recovered cases.

Clearwater County has three cases: one active and two recovered.

The bulk of the cases remains in the Calgary zone at 3,957, with 72 deaths. The south zone is at 1,094 cases, with six deaths, followed by the Edmonton zone at 502 cases and 12 deaths. The north zone has 221 cases, with 15 deaths.

There are 622 COVID-19 outbreak cases in continuing care facilities across the province, said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer.

The government website shows a list of the facilities in Alberta with the outbreaks and does not feature any central zone facilities.

Locations of outbreaks in acute care and continuing care facilities are reported publicly when there are two or more cases, indicating that a transmission within the facility has occurred.

Outbreaks at other facilities, or in the community, are reported publicly when there are five or more cases.

Hinshaw encouraged Albertans to take care of their mental health, as well as check in with their loved ones.

“We often ask people struggling to reach out to their families and friends, but reaching out can sometimes feel like one of the hardest things to do,” she said.

“Instead, I challenge all of us today to try to connect proactively with our loved ones and ask how they’re feeling, instead of waiting for them to reach out.

“Thank the people in your circle who uplift you, and who improve your mental health well-being and ask how you can be that person for someone else,” she said, adding anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are likely to become widespread amid the pandemic.



mamta.lulla@reddeeradvocate.com

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