Everyone at continuing care centres experiencing outbreaks in Alberta will be tested
EDMONTON -- The provincial government has changed the COVID-19 gameplan again and will now expand testing to include all residents and staff members at care facilities throughout Alberta.
Premier Jason Kenney joined Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer of health, for the update Friday.
He says the target populations of people requiring testing has been constantly changing to meet the circumstances posed by the illness.
This week, Alberta Health Services (AHS) began testing anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms, Kenney said, as well as those with symptoms in long-term care facilities, where many outbreaks have been discovered.
Now, Kenney says the situation has changed again.
"To ensure that we get those outbreaks under control as soon as possible, more must be done," he said. "So, we are announcing that in the coming days, we will be testing all residents and staff at continuing care facilities that have outbreaks whether those people have symptoms or not."
On Wednesday, Hinshaw said testing asymptomatic individuals doesn't always give a clear picture when it comes to tracking cases.
Now that the province has mandated expanded testing, Hinshaw said she understands that Albertans are concerned about the risk of infection at long-term care facilities.
"I am too. It is not acceptable that elderly Albertans are put at risk in a place where their health is supposed to be protected. We have put strong measures in place to limit the spread of infection at these facilities."
She said even a negative test of an asymptomatic individual does not replace the requirement for self-isolation if they came into close contact with a confirmed case.
"What it does is gives us a better chance of early identification of new cases," Hinshaw said. "Testing more residents and staff in continuing care facilities will help us prevent further infections and deaths."
She also made an announcement about her commitment towards transparency when it comes to COVID-19 outbreaks anywhere, including those at continuing care facilities.
"Going forward, we are working to include information on all COVID-19 outbreaks on our webpage to support my commitment to be as transparent to Albertans as possible while still protecting personally identifiable information."
Alberta Health says there have been 270 cases of coronavirus confirmed at 34 continuing care facilities in the province.
A complete list of all the outbreaks at facilities, where one or more cases have been confirmed, is expected to be released early next week.
There have been 239 cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Alberta over the past 24 hours, Kenney added. No deaths have been reported.
The total number of cases in the province is now 2,397 and 60 people are in hospital along with 13 in the ICU.
To date, 85,144 COVID-19 tests have been conducted, with an average of approximately 2,000 per day since March 4.
This is a developing story and we will have more details...