Alberta expands testing eligibility to anybody showing COVID-19 symptoms

Alberta has recorded 81 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours and two more deaths, bringing the total number to 1,732 confirmed cases and 46 deaths.

Province records 81 new cases of COVID-19 and 2 more deaths

Dr. Deena Hinshaw updated Albertans on COVID-19 Monday. In the past 24 hours, the province has recorded 81 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths, bringing the total number to 1,732 confirmed cases. (Art Raham/CBC)

Alberta has recorded 81 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours and two more deaths, bringing the total number to 1,732 confirmed cases and 46 deaths.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, also reported Monday that 877 people have recovered from the illness.

The deaths are a woman in her 80s who lived at the Carewest Sarcee long-term care home in Calgary and man in his 80s who lived in the Calgary zone but not in a care home.

Of all the cases 254 are believed to be from community transmission.

While releasing the numbers, Hinshaw also announced an expansion of testing protocol in the province, effective Tuesday. 

Anyone in Alberta with fever, cough, shortness of breath, runny nose or sore throat can be tested for COVID-19.

"As long as we maintain our testing and lab capacity, it is my hope that we can continue to offer this broad access to testing," she said. "Going forward, testing all symptomatic Albertans will give us a more complete picture of trending over time." 

Those with symptoms are advised to stay at home and take the AHS online assessment tool first. 

So far, 77,007 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19, but the province's testing capacity has grown over the last two weeks.

About 7,400 lab tests can be done each day now if the required chemicals are available, but the goal is for 9,000 a day by the end of the month and 20,000 a day by late May, Hinshaw said.

Testing and surveillance of the disease will further adapt over time, she said.

"In the coming days, I will be releasing COVID-19 hospitalization trends, which will give us a better picture of the spread over the past several weeks," she said. 

Here are how the cases breakdown among the provincial zones:

Calgary zone: 1114
Edmonton zone: 399
North zone: 105
Central zone: 74
South zone: 33
Unknown: 7

 According to Alberta government statistics, 37 of the 46 deaths involved people aged 70 and older. 

The are currently 47 people in hospital, including 14 who have been admitted to intensive care units.

Many of the deaths have been at continuing care centres, including McKenzie Towne long term care facility in Calgary, Manoir du Lac in the North zone and the Shepherd's Care Foundation Kensington Village in Edmonton.

Because of the outbreaks in continuing care facilities, the government has announced that all workers at Alberta's continuing care homes would be required to wear masks at all times when providing direct patient care or working in patient-care areas within two metres of other people.

The province will also require all workers in continuing care facilities to work at only one site, to help prevent the spread of illness between facilities.

The measures will go into effect this week.


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