COVID-19 testing expands in Alberta

Five addition deaths Thursday

COVID-19 testing will be even more widely available in the coming days, announced the Alberta government Thursday.

During a live update by Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Thursday, she said that after a pharmacy pilot project for over 10,000 sites was launched in June, the project will be expanded.

“We are pleased to see Alberta Health expand the pharmacy-based COVID-19 testing program beyond the pilot,” Hinshaw said.

“Most of the pharmacist practitioners participating in the pilot have been screening individuals prior to entering the pharmacy and testing by appointment only. Therefore, we encourage those interested in receiving a COVID-19 test to contact their pharmacist in advance.”

The project will be expanded to any pharmacy that wants to offer testing and meets the safety requirements. A list of pharmacies providing testing is now available online. Only people with no symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19 can be tested at a pharmacy.

As of July 30, the province has completed 676,913 COVID-19 tests.

Hinshaw also announced Thursday 113 new cases and five new COVID-19-related deaths, all of which were in Edmonton. The province now has 195 deaths due to the virus.

The central zone now sits at 201 active cases, with 195 recoveries. Sixteen people are in hospital, with five in the ICU.

Red Deer is down to eight active cases, while 47 people have recovered from the virus. Red Deer County has seven active cases and Lacombe County has eight. The Town of Sylvan Lake sits at five active cases, while Lacombe has just one. The County of Stettler remains the hardest-hit area in the region, with 24 active cases.

The County of Paintearth has 10 active cases, while Starland County has nine and Kneehill County has seven and Mountain View County has one. The City of Wetaskiwin sits at three active cases and Camrose has five. Camrose County now has two active cases.

Meanwhile, there are 1,408 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,113 recovered cases. Ninety-one people remain in hospital, with 18 in the ICU. The province also completed 8,760 tests over the past 24 hours.

In the Calgary zone there are 655 cases, while the Edmonton zone sits at 278 active cases. Calgary has also seen 5,701 recovered cases, while Edmonton has 1,304 recovered cases. The Calgary zone has had 114 deaths due to the virus, while the Edmonton zone has had 47.

Hinshaw also explained that 9,400 blood tests were collected for other reasons during the first week in June in order to start serological testing.

It provides a baseline estimate for how many Albertans had antibodies for COVID-19 at that point and time. It reflects infections that happened before the middle of May.

“This is important because many people may not have been aware that they had COVID-19 or not gotten tested for it. Especially in earlier spring before testing was widely available,” she said.

Of the samples, less than one per cent showed the presence of antibodies. Hinshaw said at that time in mid-May, the province had identified 6,000 cases through swab testing.

“We calculate there are almost 36,000 COVID-19 cases in Alberta as of May 20,” she said.

This indicates that Alberta’s testing program had identified about 17 per cent of cases in the population.

“I know this number may sound low, but it’s actually very good,” she said.

Hinshaw noted B.C. showed about 12.5 per cent of estimated cases were identified in its serological study. In California, Spain and Sweden, between 1.3 and 9.7 per cent of cases were identified by swab testing.

“This data indicates that our current PCR testing is highly effective,” she said.

Along with data on cases numbers and hospitalizations, Hinshaw said Alberta’s efforts to flatten the curve and limit the spread of COVID-19 were successful.

“This also tells us as of mid-May, a very low percentage of our population had been infected with COVID-19,” she said.

The study will be repeated monthly.

In addition, Hinshaw also cautioned with the long weekend approaching, Albertans need to be careful about large gatherings.

“We all want to socialize and make happy, positive memories, I am confident none of us want those memories to be spoiled with a loved one getting sick, or family and friends having to isolate because we didn’t take simple precautions,” she said.

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

Just Posted

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owner found

Father and son found miniature horse while out for a walk at JJ Collett

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

Paula Law took the oath of office on Oct. 19 with Lacombe County Manager Tim Timmons. Photo courtesy Lacombe County.
Lacombe County re-elects Paula Law as Reeve

This will be Law’s eighth term as Reeve and tenth year on the county council

Rieley Kay owns both Moe’s Pizza and Cilantro and Chive which are businesses located in downtown Lacombe. (Alannah Page/Lacombe Express)
City of Lacombe announces updated plans for downtown redevelopment

The plan would see $1.7 million spent on the downtown over the next 10 years

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

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

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Leader of the Opposition Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Thursday October 22, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
O’Toole tells Alberta UCP AGM Liberals were ‘late and confused’ on COVID response

He says Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has taken charge and not waited to make things happen

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives for an announcement at a news conference in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Inquiry into oil and gas foes to deliver report next year: Kenney

A lawsuit filed by environmental law firm Ecojustice argues the inquiry is politically motivated

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

This photo provided by Air Force Reserve shows a sky view of Hurricane Epsilon taken by Air Force Reserve hurricane hunter team over the Atlantic Ocean taken Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020.   Epsilon’s maximum sustained winds have dropped slightly as it prepares to sideswipe Bermuda on a path over the Atlantic Ocean.  The National Hurricane Center says it should come close enough Thursday, Oct. 22, evening to merit a tropical storm warning for the island.  (Air Force Reserve via AP)
Hurricane Epsilon expected to remain offshore but will push waves at Atlantic Canada

Epsilon is not expected to have any real impact on land

A voter places her absentee ballot in the ballot box, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty
American voters living in Canada increasingly being counted in presidential race

The largest number of Canadian-based American voters cast their ballots in New York and California

A composite image of three photographs shows BC NDP Leader John Horgan, left, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Sept. 25, 2020; BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau, centre, in Victoria on Sept. 24, 2020; and BC Liberal Party Leader Andrew Wilkinson Pitt Meadows, B.C., on Sept. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck, Chad Hipolito
British Columbia votes in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan called the snap election one year before the fixed voting date

Nunavut's provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, on Tuesday June 30, 2020. The annual report from Nunavut's representative for children and youth says "complacency and a lack of accountability" in the territory's public service means basic information about young people needing services isn’t tracked. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Nunavut’s young people ‘should be expecting more’ from government services: advocate

‘The majority of information we requested is not tracked or was not provided by departments’

Most Read