The province will be shifting to a more targeted COVID-19 testing approach in order to reduce testing wait times and speed up access to results.
As the cold and flu season approaches, Dr. Deena Hinshaw says more Albertans will be symptomatic and therefore more people will need to be tested for COVID-19.
For that reason, Alberta is preparing for a surge in demand for testing by refocusing on those with symptoms, close contacts of confirmed cases, and those linked to outbreaks.
Voluntary asymptomatic testing will still be offered, however the province is shifting the focus to priority groups including the following:
- school teachers and staff
- residents and staff in congregate settings
- health-care workers
- Albertans experiencing homelessness
- travellers who require testing prior to departure
Of the 1,169,378 COVID-19 tests completed in Alberta to date, more than 233,000 were asymptomatic.
Dr. Hinshaw says asymptomatic testing is not contributing significantly to the new cases we are seeing in Alberta. She says asymptomatic testing has yielded, on average, seven positive test results per 10,000 people tested.
She says the asymptomatic testing gave health officials a better idea of how COVID-19 is and isn't spread, however it is no longer recommended for Albertans with no symptoms and no suspected exposure to COVID-19.
Anyone without symptoms who has already booked a test will receive it as usual.
As for the latest COVID-19 stats, 146 new cases were identified on Thursday based on more than 13,000 test results. 1,483 cases remain active in the province while 14,537 have recovered.
41 people are currently fighting the virus in hospital, with eight of those in ICU. No new deaths have been reported, so the total remains at 254.