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Coronavirus: Alberta Health Services explains why there is less testing in South zone

Coronavirus: Alberta Health Services explains why there is less testing in South Zone
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to intensify, some say there isn't enough testing being done in the South Zone. Only about five per cent of all Alberta tests have been conducted in this zone, but Alberta Health Services says there are reasons for that. Taz Dhaliwal reports.

Some Lethbridge residents are concerned there isn’t enough COVID-19 testing being done in the South zone as numbers show that only five per cent of overall testing in the province has been completed there.

That’s less than half of the tests done in the next-lowest zone, with the north at 10 per cent. The highest testing is in the Calgary Zone at 41 per cent and 31 per cent in the Edmonton Zone.

However, Alberta Health Services says the testing numbers are a reflection of the population in the zones.

READ MORE: Alberta closes some non-essential business, prevents evictions as 542 COVID-19 cases confirmed

“Testing numbers are based on a number of things,” said South zone lead medical officer, Vivian Suttorp, on Friday. “It’s very difficult to compare a crude number of tests — the total number of tests — of a rural community to the population of Calgary, which is 1.6 million.”

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Suttorp said it’s good news for the South zone because the region hasn’t yet seen any confirmed cases of community spread, a thought echoed by the mayor of Lethbridge.

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“It’s been people who have been returning from elsewhere who have been singularly identified has being positive for COVID-19,” said Mayor Chris Spearman.

“So far we have been fortunate not to have community transmission in the South zone,” he said.

When it comes to who is eligible for testing, AHS says it continues to prioritize:

  • People who are hospitalized with respiratory illness
  • Residents of continuing care and similar facilities
  • People who have returned from travelling abroad recently from March 8-12
  • Healthcare workers with respiratory symptoms

Anyone with symptoms who does not fall into these categories is advised by AHS to stay home and self-isolate.

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AHS says Albertans can complete the COVID-19 online self-assessment to determine if you should receive testing for COVID-19.

“Please do not visit a hospital, physician’s office, lab or healthcare facility without consulting Health Link 811 first.

“If your symptoms worsen, call 811. We are experiencing heavy call volumes and will get to your call as quickly as we can.

“Call 911 if you are seriously ill and need immediate medical attention. Inform them that you may have COVID-19,” AHS said.

Dr. Suttorp warns people not to flock to the emergency room if they think they may have the virus.

She’s reminding others that the ER is reserved for those who are feeling critically sick and have exhausted other avenues.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.