Alberta receives serology test results for COVID-19 antibodies, records 113 new cases

Click to play video: 'Alberta announces first results from COVID-19 serology testing'
Alberta announces first results from COVID-19 serology testing
Dr. Deena Hinshaw updates the first results of COVID-19 serology testing in Alberta. – Jul 30, 2020

On the same day Alberta announced it has received results from serology testing conducted in early June, the province also recorded 113 new cases of  COVID-19 and five new deaths.

Amid a climbing number of active cases in the province, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced some good news Thursday, sharing results from the $10-million targeted serology testing programs.

The testing works to detect the presence of antibodies in a person’s blood, which will indicate if the person has previously been exposed to COVID-19.

Read more: Alberta in final stages of validating serology tests to detect COVID-19 antibodies

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“Our labs have analyzed nearly 9,400 anonymous randomized samples from blood tests that were collected for other clinical reasons during the first week in June,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a news conference.

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“This provides a baseline estimate of how many Albertans had antibodies to the COVID-19 virus at that point in time, reflecting infections that would have happened before the middle of May,” she said.

“Of the samples from early June, less than one per cent showed the presence of antibodies.”

Hinshaw said the percentage from the serology testing was applied to the province’s population to conclude that an estimated 36,000 Albertans had been infected with COVID-19 as of May 20.

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“We had identified just over 6,000 cases with swab testing,” she added.

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

Hinshaw noted that number is more successful than other jurisdictions, not only in Canada but across the globe.

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“I think it’s very encouraging,” she said.

Hinshaw said further analysis of June’s serology testing data and upcoming data from July will be used to help inform the province’s response to the ongoing pandemic.

Read more: Alberta investing $10M for targeted COVID-19 antibody testing

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Hinshaw also announced changes to accessing coronavirus testing in the province, noting all pharmacies will now be able to provide testing if they wish to do so and if they can fulfill safety requirements.

She added there is a process the pharmacies must first go through which enables them to offer these tests and it may take several weeks for them to get up and running in communities across Alberta. Only residents who are not exhibiting any symptoms or who have not been knowingly exposed to the virus can be tested at pharmacies, Hinshaw said.

“Many people are excited to access testing closer to home and many pharmacies are excited to offer this critical service,” Hinshaw said.

Hinshaw said the province is also working to decrease wait times in Alberta to access testing. She said more staff are being hired in the fall to conduct these tests and testing hours are also being expanded across the province.

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Click to play video: 'Alberta expands community pharmacy testing for COVID-19'
Alberta expands community pharmacy testing for COVID-19

Latest COVID-19 numbers in Alberta

With 113 new COVID-19 cases since Wednesday, Alberta now has 1,408 active cases. Of those, 91 people are in hospital and 18 people are being treated in intensive care units.

Five new deaths have also been reported. The latest fatalities were three people in their 90s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 70s, all in the Edmonton zone. The deaths have been linked to the outbreak at the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Centre.

The number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in the province now sits at 195.

The province’s major urban areas remain the zones with the highest number of cases. On Thursday afternoon, the Calgary zone reported 655 active cases, followed by the Edmonton zone which has 278 cases.

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Alberta’s Central zone has 201 active cases, the South zone has 148 cases and 118 active cases have been recorded in the North zone.

There are also currently eight active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta that have not been linked to a specific zone.

Since the pandemic first hit Alberta in March, the province has recorded a total of 10,716 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 9,113 have recovered.

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