Alberta is making changes to the quarantine requirements for people who have both received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and to those who have been fully vaccinated. The changes come as Alberta identified 812 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. (Full COVID-19 data below).
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health announced separate changes Thursday afternoon, which apply to close contacts of COVID-19 cases who have received one dose of vaccine and those who are two weeks past being fully immunized.
“It only applies to those that have received the vaccine,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw stressed.
“For those that have not gotten any doses, there is no change to the 14-day quarantine period.”
Up until now, all Albertans — regardless of their vaccination status — were legally required to quarantine for 14 days if they were a close contact of a COVID-19 case.
Rules for Albertans with 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Effective immediately, individuals who have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine will have a shortened quarantine period if they are determined to be a close contact of a confirmed case. The quarantine period will be shortened from 14 days to 10 days as long as the close contact has no symptoms.
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Close contacts will still be required to get a COVID-19 test. However, if individuals with one dose of vaccine receive a negative COVID-19 test on Day 7 or later in the quarantine period, they will be able to stop quarantining.
If the test comes back positive, the current isolation rules still apply, Hinshaw explained. Close contacts who have symptoms also will still have to follow the current isolation rules.
Rules for Albertans who are fully vaccinated
Albertans who are close contacts and have received two doses of COVID-19 vaccine — and at least two weeks have passed since they received their second dose — will no longer be required to quarantine at all if they have no symptoms.
If a fully vaccinated person has even minor symptoms, Hinshaw said they must isolate and go for a COVID-19 test as usual.
If that test comes back negative, the person will not be required to quarantine further. However, if the test is positive, the individual must isolate for 10 days from when their symptoms started.
“This is for close contacts who have received both doses of a vaccine,” Hinshaw stressed.
The new rules do not apply to returning international travellers. All Albertans returning from international travel, regardless of their vaccination status, are still required to quarantine for two weeks.
Hinshaw said the change to the quarantine period aligns with changes made in Ontario and Manitoba.
“While vaccines don’t erase all possibility of infection, the data shows the vaccine reduces the amount of virus in the person’s body, even if someone does get infected, which further reduces the risk of transmission. This is good news,” she said.
“We also know there is good short-term protection in those who have received just one dose of a two-dose series.”
The new quarantine requirements will also mean less disruptions for families, workplaces and schools, while still preventing the spread of COVID-19, Hinshaw said.
“Regardless of whether someone has had one, two or no doses, all of the other restrictions in place still apply.”
Hinshaw said contact tracers and case investigators have the ability to collect and use personal health information, so they will ensure people have received their vaccine when following up with close contacts.
“People will need to be able to share with the contact tracer the type of vaccine they had, the date that they got it, so that that contact tracer can verify the time period between the dose that they received and when the exposure happened, and verify that they meet the criteria.”
So far, nearly 51 per cent of eligible Albertans 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine.
More than 2.3 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Alberta.
“The response from Albertans to get their COVID-19 vaccine has been incredibly encouraging,” Hinshaw said. “We are making real progress.”
More information on the new quarantine requirements for vaccinated individuals can be found on Alberta Health’s website.
COVID-19 data Thursday
Alberta identified 812 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday. Those came after about 9,000 tests were processed, putting the province’s positivity rate at 9.3 per cent.
There are now 17,675 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, down from 18,813 active cases Wednesday.
There are now 665 people in hospital with COVID-19, 177 of whom are being treated in intensive care.
Four additional deaths were reported to Alberta Health in the last 24 hours, bringing the province’s death toll to 2,162.
“I extend my sympathies to all who are experiencing loss at this time, whether from COVID-19 or any other cause,” Hinshaw said.
A man in his 40s and a man in his 70s in the Edmonton zone died. A man in his 60s and a man in his 70s in the Calgary zone died. All four deaths included comorbidities, according to Alberta Health.