20-year-old man’s death reported Sept. 10 not a COVID-19 death after all: Alberta Health

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Dr. Hinshaw discusses the effects of mandatory mask bylaws on Alberta COVID-19 numbers and where the current majority of cases are coming from.

Editor’s note: The details surrounding the death of a 20-year-old man have been corrected after new information from Alberta Health. A spokesperson for Alberta Health Services also clarified the option to receive text message results is available for people getting tested at pharmacies as well at AHS testing centres.

The death of an Albertan in his 20s that was first ruled a COVID-19 death on Thursday wasn’t related to the disease at all, Alberta Health confirmed on Monday.

On Sept. 10, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health said the young adult was one of five new deaths reported that day by Alberta Health.

On Friday, Alberta Health said a death previously linked COVID-19 was found to not be related after an autopsy, but didn’t say which death.

A spokesperson for Alberta Health confirmed the 20-year-old was no longer thought to have died due to COVID-19 in an email to 630 CHED.

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The man lived in the Edmonton zone and Dr. Deena Hinshaw said he had “chronic conditions” but wouldn’t provide any further information, citing privacy reasons on Thursday.

Read more: Alberta allows indoor whirlpools, hot tubs, dry saunas and steam saunas to re-open

Four other deaths linked to COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. Two deaths were reported in the North zone: a man in his 70s and a woman in her 50s. In the Calgary zone, a woman in her 70s and a man in his 80s also have died. Alberta Health said the man’s death was linked to the outbreak at All Colony Seniors Lodge.

Click to play video 'Man in his 20s among 5 new Alberta COVID-19 deaths, 113 new cases reported Thursday' Man in his 20s among 5 new Alberta COVID-19 deaths, 113 new cases reported Thursday
Man in his 20s among 5 new Alberta COVID-19 deaths, 113 new cases reported Thursday
“Whether an individual is in their 20s or older, it’s always a loss and I would want to express my sympathies to family and friends, both of [the man in his 20s] and all those who we’ve lost to COVID-19,” Hinshaw said.
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Alberta Health announced 113 new cases of the illness on Thursday.

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As of Thursday, there were 1,494 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Though Hinshaw noted that number was lower than the day before, she said it was “still a concerning total.”

Read more: Province to start offering flu vaccine to vulnerable Albertans by Oct. 13

There are currently 43 people in hospital with seven of those in the ICU.

On Wednesday, the province completed 9,711 tests. To date, 1,072,681 coronavirus tests have been completed.

Retrospective testing finds earlier first case

The province has announced that after testing more than 23,000 samples that were taken for other respiratory illnesses between Dec. 1, 2019 and March 7, 2020, a positive case of COVID-19 has been found earlier than the first reported case on March 9.

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Alberta finds 1 retrospective case of COVID-19 in study

The testing has shown there was a sample collected on Feb. 24 that tested positive. That’s nine days before Alberta’s first official case. Hinshaw pointed to the short difference in time between cases and the fact that similar testing in China has shown the virus was actually in that country two months before its first official case as evidence that Alberta’s reaction and response to the pandemic was successful.

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“I do think it highlights the decisions that we made and the timing of when we did expand our testing availability to all travellers — and then all who had symptoms — was appropriate,” Hinshaw said.

Read more: COVID-19 vaccine task force members have declared 18 conflicts of interests so far

The person had returned from travel to the U.S. when they became sick and was tested for influenza because testing criteria had not been expanded to include all travellers at that time.

“We were the first province to expand our testing to all travellers very early on because we did see there were cases coming from countries that we didn’t otherwise anticipate,” Hinshaw said.

“Having that single case really validates our approach.”

New ways to receive test results

Effective immediately, Albertans can now learn the results of their coronavirus tests – positive or negative – via text message.

This is on top of the ability to opt in for a call about a negative result from an auto-dialer system.

Click to play video 'Alberta adds texting and auto-dialing system for COVID-19 testing notifications' Alberta adds texting and auto-dialing system for COVID-19 testing notifications
Alberta adds texting and auto-dialing system for COVID-19 testing notifications

The new system will send an alert to the person who received the test – or the parent or guardian of a child who has been tested – as soon as the test result is available.

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“Albertans will be able to select their choice of notification options when they book their appointment through Alberta Health Services,” Hinshaw said.

Anyone who receives a positive test result will still receive a follow-up call from Alberta Health Services for follow-up and cases management — these other options “simply give people the ability to be notified as soon as it’s available.”

Read more: Coronavirus: What schools in Alberta have COVID-19 outbreaks

Albertans will be able to sign up for a text notification if getting tested at one of the AHS testing facilities or at a pharmacy participating in testing.

Hinshaw said Alberta Health is still working to expand testing capacity and to speed up the process in other areas as well and said she should have more information in the coming days.