This weekend the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province continued to rise. Sunday thirty-three additional cases were confirmed, bringing Alberta’s total COVID-19 cases to 259.
New cases from this weekend include the central zone, with one confirmed case in Wetaskiwin County. No additional information about the Wetaskiwin County case is known at this time.
While cases in the province continue to climb, many Albertans still seem reluctant to practice social distancing.
On Sunday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw urged Albertans to take caution. “A reminder to all Albertans that now is not the time for social gatherings and if you must go out, practice social distancing,” she said in a Tweet.
A reminder to all Albertans that now is not the time for social gatherings and if you must go out, practice social distancing.
— Dr. Deena Hinshaw (@CMOH_Alberta) March 22, 2020
As Alberta continues to grow in cases, the province is making changes to its COVID-19 testing approach.
The new format would prioritize at-risk populations as well as those at the highest risk of exposure. Announced Monday by Alberta Health, these changes are effective going forward.
These changes mean travelers who return to the province after Mar. 12 who have mild symptoms will no longer be tested for coronavirus. They will instead be asked to self-isolate at home and away from others.
However, a news release has stated, “Anyone who has already been told by Health Link that they will be tested will still get tested.”
Hinshaw explained in a news release, “this is consistent with the approach happening across Canada.”
“It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources,” Hinshaw says.
Testing will be prioritized for symptomatic individuals meeting these criteria:
• People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness.
• Residents of continuing care and other similar facilities.
• People who returned from traveling abroad between Mar.8 and Mar.12 (before the self-isolation protocols were in place.
• Health-care workers with respiratory symptoms (this testing will begin later this week.
Anyone with symptoms that does not fit any of these categories is asked to stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer.
The province has also updated its online self-assessment tool to reflect these changes in testing for returning travelers.