Asymptomatic testing will now be available for “priority groups” who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta shifting to ‘targeted approach’ to asymptomatic COVID-19 testing

Alberta’s central zone down to 29 active cases

Alberta is shifting to a “more targeted approach” to COVID-19 asymptomatic testing, says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.

The province will target asymptomatic testing for “those who most need it and where it is most likely to identify positive cases,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said during a live update Thursday afternoon.

“This is the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Albertans during the winter and flu season,” Hinshaw said, adding this will also reduce testing wait times and speed up access to results.

Asymptomatic testing will be available for “priority groups” who are most likely to spread the virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. These groups include residents and staff at congregate settings, health-care workers, school teachers and staff, and Albertans experiencing homelessness.

“This change to focus on priority groups will help ensure testing is scheduled as quickly as possible and shorten the length of time that Albertans are waiting to get results,” said Hinshaw.

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms, is a close contact with a confirmed case and linked to an outbreak will continue to be tested, she added.

While testing is no longer recommended for asymptomatic Albertans who are not in these priority groups, or with no known exposure, people who have already booked a test can still get one.

The City of Red Deer still has eight active COVID-19 cases, according to geospatial mapping on the provincial government’s website.

Alberta Health Service’s central zone is down to 29 active cases, which is three fewer than Wednesday.

Lacombe County, Sylvan Lake and Mountain View County have one active case each. Ponoka County and the City of Wetaskiwin have two cases each.

Total cases have increased by 146 in the province – there are currently 1,483 active cases and 14,537 recovered cases.

Forty-one people are currently in hospital, eight of whom are in ICU. There are no hospitalizations in the central zone.

Edmonton has the most active cases, with 751. Meanwhile, Calgary has 470, the north zone has 193, the south zone has 38 and two are located in an unknown area.

The upcoming winter will provide a “significant challenge” for Alberta, said Hinshaw. During influenza season, there will be a greater chance of catching a cold or flu, which have similar symptoms to COVID.

“More people with symptoms means that we will see more people needing to be tested,” she said.

“Our lab system needs to support cases of both COVID-19 and influenza. Winter also means that we will be spending more time indoors and COVID-19 is a virus that spreads easily through close contact, especially indoors.”

Hinshaw said people spending more time indoors will increase the risk of exposure, which also increases the need for quick and timely testing.

“COVID-19 testing will remain crucial to supporting a safe school year and keeping Alberta’s economy open throughout the winter,” she said.



sean.mcintosh@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cilantro and Chive was voted in the top three in no less than 13 different categories in the 2020 Best of Lacombe Readers Choice Awards. Photo by Megan Roth/Lacombe Express
Cilantro and Chive opening in Red Deer

There will now be two Cilantro and Chive locations. The restaurant announced… Continue reading

People wear face masks as they wait to enter a store in Montreal on October 24, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canadian provinces hardest hit by COVID-19 reach sobering milestones

MONTREAL — The Canadian provinces hardest hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal study details workers hit hardest by tax, benefit system for extra earnings

OTTAWA — Newly released documents show Finance Department officials calculated that workers… Continue reading

Cenovus. (The Canadian Press)
Cenovus to buy Husky Energy in deal valued at $23.6B, company will remain in Alberta

CALGARY — Cenovus Energy Inc. is buying Husky Energy Inc. in an… Continue reading

test tube with the blood test is on the table next to the documents. Positive test for coronavirus covid-19. The concept of fighting a dangerous Chinese disease.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 in Canada for Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 10:49… Continue reading

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
John Horgan says he will work across party lines to find ideas that work for B.C.

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s election results show a divided province with Liberal… Continue reading

President Donald Trump gestures from the top of the steps of Air Force 1 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. When people in the United States talk about moving to Canada to escape four more years of Donald Trump, it’s usually either a punchline or a pipe dream. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Susan Walsh
Move to Canada? A pipe dream for some Americans is a parachute for Canadian expats

WASHINGTON, Wash. — When people in the United States talk about moving… Continue reading

The Cogeco logo is seen in Montreal on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

President Donald Trump, left, and Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden during the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. Stock market investors are breathing a little easier despite potentially facing higher taxes as the possibility of a contested U.S. presidential election appears to be fading, say investment experts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Patrick Semansky
Markets concerns about contested U.S. election fading with Biden lead in polls

TORONTO — Stock market investors are breathing a little easier despite potentially… Continue reading

(File photo)
Ontario records more than 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases for first time

Ontario is reporting more than 1,000 mew daily cases of COVID-19 for… Continue reading

Pope Francis delivers his message during the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St.Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope names 13 new cardinals, includes US Archbishop Gregory

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis on Sunday named 13 new cardinals, including… Continue reading

Dave Mercer, President of Unifor Local 2121, overlooks Conception Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Terra Nova floating production vessel that is anchored there on Friday, October 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly
As N.L.’s oil industry sputters, the emotional toll of the cod moratorium looms large

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Dave Mercer spent the early 1990s roaming around… Continue reading

Most Read