Advertisement

Alberta’s positivity rate sits at 7%; rapid tests coming to some assessment centres

Alberta confirmed 1,077 new cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Thursday.

The province’s chief medical officer of health said more than 15,900 tests were completed. That means Alberta’s positivity rate is about seven per cent.

As of Thursday, there were 383 Albertans in hospital, with 84 of those people in intensive care units.

Read more: Changes to visitation in certain AHS facilities announced as Alberta reaches 500 COVID-19 deaths

Ten deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours, Hinshaw said.

Nine of the people who died were connected to COVID-19 outbreaks, including a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at Mayerthorpe Extendicare in North zone (she had comorbidities), a woman in her 80s linked to the outbreak at Covenant Care Chateau Vitaline in Edmonton zone, a woman in her 80s linked to the outbreak at Mount Royal Revera in Calgary zone, a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at Laurel Heights Retirement Residence in Edmonton zone, a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Luxstone Manor in Calgary zone, a woman in her 90s linked to the outbreak at the Edmonton Chinatown Care Centre (she had comorbidities), a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Capital Care Strathcona, a man in his 90s linked to the outbreak at South Country Village in South zone (he had comorbidities) and a man in his 80s linked to the outbreak at Covenant Care Chateau Vitaline in Edmonton zone.

Story continues below advertisement

A man in his 70s from Edmonton zone also died from COVID-19, Alberta Health said. He had no comorbidities and was not connected to an outbreak.

A total of 510 Albertans have now died from the virus.

Click to play video 'Alberta records 1,077 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths on Thursday' Alberta records 1,077 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths on Thursday
Alberta records 1,077 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths on Thursday – Nov 26, 2020

Currently, 359 schools across Alberta have active alerts or outbreaks, which represents around 15 per cent of schools in the province. There are 1,288 active cases in Alberta schools.

Point-of-care rapid testing

In the coming weeks, point-of-care rapid COVID-19 testing will be rolled out in pilot projects at several sites throughout Alberta.

The PanBio rapid antigen tests will be used at one assessment centre in Calgary and one assessment centre in Edmonton. The IDNow tests will begin to be used at the COVID-19 assessment centres in Slave Lake and St. Paul and at the hospital lab in Bonnyville.

Story continues below advertisement

The tests must be administered by a health worker and will be used on patients who are within the first seven days of symptoms.

Click to play video 'Alberta to introduce COVID-19 rapid testing in December' Alberta to introduce COVID-19 rapid testing in December
Alberta to introduce COVID-19 rapid testing in December – Nov 26, 2020

Over the last two months, Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) have been working to evaluate the effectiveness of the Abbott IDNow and PanBio COVID-19 testing kits, which have been approved by Health Canada and provided to provinces and territories by the federal government.

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

More than 100,000 tests are available for distribution in Alberta.

Health Minister Tyler Shandro stressed these are not at-home tests.

Read more: Health Canada approves first Canadian-made rapid COVID-19 test

Two swabs will be taken from each patient and a traditional swab will also be taken so that the results are confirmed by a lab test as well.

Story continues below advertisement

The rapid COVID-19 tests will supply results within hours and don’t need to be transported to labs.

“They’re another tool to protect vulnerable residents,” Shandro said. “This is an exciting announcement.”

The province said health officials will use these pilots to determine how to streamline patient results notification and digital record keeping processes before the tests are deployed widely across the province.

APL is also working on expanding the use of point-of-care testing in other locations where it can be of the greatest value for public health authorities to manage COVID-19, such as homeless shelters and long-term care facilities.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says implementation of rapid tests up to provinces, territories' Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says implementation of rapid tests up to provinces, territories
Coronavirus: Canada’s top doctor says implementation of rapid tests up to provinces, territories – Nov 24, 2020

No flu cases yet in Alberta

Hinshaw said 1.3 million doses of the influenza vaccine have been given so far this season in Alberta, which is substantially higher than the amount of doses at this time last year.

Story continues below advertisement

Alberta has still not recorded a single case of the flu yet.

At this time last year, there were 464 cases of the flu.

Read more: Alberta has reported 0 cases of influenza so far this season

While Hinshaw stressed COVID-19 is more contagious, doesn’t have a vaccine and is in many cases, more deadly, the flu rate is encouraging.

“This is a reminder that there is hope. Our actions can help protect each other form a wide range of illnesses.”

Read more: Alberta enacts 2nd COVID-19 state of public health emergency. Here’s what it means

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney announced that Alberta was enacting a state of public health emergency for the second time since the pandemic began.

New restrictions targeted social gatherings, in-classroom schooling, masks in workplaces and capacity limits in other businesses.

Click to play video 'Alberta declares public health emergency to curb COVID-19 spike' Alberta declares public health emergency to curb COVID-19 spike
Alberta declares public health emergency to curb COVID-19 spike – Nov 24, 2020

Indoor social gatherings in any setting are prohibited, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Story continues below advertisement

No more than 10 people can be present at wedding and funeral ceremonies as of Tuesday, and receptions are also off limits.

Fines for violating the orders could range anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000.

People who live alone are allowed to have two “close contacts” with whom they can socialize, as long as you are each others’ close contacts.

Click to play video 'Alberta identifies 1,115 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional coronavirus deaths on Tuesday' Alberta identifies 1,115 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional coronavirus deaths on Tuesday
Alberta identifies 1,115 new COVID-19 cases and 16 additional coronavirus deaths on Tuesday – Nov 24, 2020

Masks were made mandatory in workplaces in the hotspots of Calgary and Edmonton, and their surrounding areas.

Attendance at places of worship is capped at one-third a building’s fire code capacity, while also requiring masks and physical distancing between households.

Click to play video 'Alberta school boards quickly adapting to new provincial at-home learning measures' Alberta school boards quickly adapting to new provincial at-home learning measures
Alberta school boards quickly adapting to new provincial at-home learning measures – Nov 25, 2020

Schools across the province will move to online learning until the new year – with Grades 7 to 12 starting at-home learning as early as Nov. 30. Students in Kindergarten to Grade 6 will begin online learning on Dec. 18. All students will be out of the classrooms until Jan. 11, 2021.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: COVID-19: How much of Dr. Deena Hinshaw’s public health advice factored into recent restrictions?

More restrictions were announced for the hospitality and fitness industries, with restaurants, bars, pubs and coffee shops now only allowed to seat people from the same household, to a maximum of six people.

“Retail businesses and services may remain open, but will be restricted to 25 per cent of occupancy limits,” Kenney said.

The 10 p.m. limit on liquor service and 11 p.m. closure rules announced earlier this month will remain in place.