The province’s top physician said Thursday that 23,000 test samples collected a few months before Alberta reported its first COVID-19 illness had found only one “reconsideration” case of the illness.
Those tests looking for other respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, were used earlier this summer by Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Laboratories for a reconsideration study, which found only one case, a sample taken on February 24.
Positive test person who has just returned from a trip in the United States and was first tested for influenza.
On March 5, the province had less than two weeks to report its first COVID-19 case.
“We have only found one reconsideration case and it’s positive news that it was discovered long before March 5,” Alberta Chief Medical Officer Dr. Deena Hinsha told a news conference Thursday.
If there is any virus, including H1N1 influenza, only a fraction of the cases will be detected by the health system, Hinsha said – often people do not know they have the virus because they do not seek treatment or experience symptoms.
Samples used in the reconsideration study were first collected between December 1, 2019 and March 7, 2020.
“In my opinion, having a single case really confirms our policy,” Hinsha said.
5 new deaths
The province on Thursday reported another five COVID-19 deaths and 113 new illness cases.
One of these deaths was a man in his 20s from the Edmonton zone, the second person to die since the epidemic began six months ago.
Other recent deaths include a man in his 70s and a woman in her 50s, from the North Zone, and a woman in her 70s and a man in his 80s, from the Calgary Zone. The death of the Calgary man was linked to an outbreak at the All Colony Seniors Lodge.
As of Thursday, there were 1,494 active cases in the province, down 91 cases from the previous day.
Of those cases, 24 were registered in 21 schools in the province. There is no evidence that the disease has spread to those schools.
Three Alberta schools – Henry Wisewood High School in Calgary. St. Wilfrid Elementary in Calgary and Chinook School in Lethbridge – spread.
According to AHS guidelines, an outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed cases in the same school within 14 days. Each school reporting the outbreak reported two cases.
Hinsha said he had heard Alberts’ concerns about how long it would currently take to retrieve the test results.
“We are working hard to streamline every aspect of the testing and notification process to reduce the waiting time across the province,” she said.
Test the results via text message
Hinsha said Thursday that Albertans can get their results positively or negatively via text messages or through an auto-dialer phone system.
She said those testing positive would be contacted by Alberta Health Services phone for follow-up and case management.
The new systems give the ability to notify the public as soon as the laboratory result is available.
“This is another step and will help us get the test results to Alberts quickly, which will be crucial in eliminating the spread of COVID-19 in the coming weeks and months.”
The five recent deaths bring the total to 253 in the province, including 34 residents from the Good Samaritan Care Center in Edmonton.
A total of 43 people were being treated in hospitals on Thursday for the illness, including seven in ACU beds.
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