Alberta to continue COVID-19 testing beyond Sept. 27 deadline

WATCH ABOVE: University of Calgary Faculty of Law associate professor Dr. Lorian Hardcastle speaks with Breanna Karstens-Smith about the confusion and ineffectiveness of new health measures introduced in Alberta.

The Alberta government says it will continue to test for COVID-19 beyond Sept. 27, as the fourth wave of the pandemic continues to grip the province.

In a statement Monday, Alberta Health confirmed testing for symptomatic people will continue past the initial deadline of Sept. 27.

This is the second time the province has backtracked on its plan to stop testing.

On July 28, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced a number of changes to the province’s COVID-19 approach, which would have seen widespread COVID-19 testing come to an end on Aug. 16.

However, on Aug. 13, the province announced it would push that deadline back to Sept. 27.

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In his statement Monday, Alberta Health spokesperson Chris Bourdeau did not say how long the province would continue with symptomatic COVID-19 testing beyond Sept. 27.

In a media availability Friday morning, Hinshaw said the province is “looking closely at the timeline for that particular point in time at the end of September, with respect to self-referral testing and mandatory isolation, to determine what is more appropriate in terms of a timeline on those pieces.”

The change comes amid another surge in COVID-19 cases in Alberta, particularly driven by the Delta variant.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 13,495 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta; 1,401 new cases were reported on that day alone.

There were 515 people in hospital with COVID-19 at the end of last week, with 118 of those people in intensive care.

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As of Friday, about 80 per cent of the people hospitalized with COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated, according to the Alberta government.

The province does not publicly release COVID-19 data on the weekend or holidays. Updated case counts from the past four days are expected to be released Tuesday afternoon.

Alberta Health also said Monday that the wastewater program — which studies the presence of COVID-19 in Alberta’s municipal wastewater systems — will also expand.

More details will be shared “in the near future” once the expansion approach and funding is finalized, Bourdeau said.

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