The Innisfail area has recorded its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus, health officials say.
Provincial officials announced today (March 23) that 42 additional cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, bringing the total number of cases in the province to 301.
"There is now one confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Innisfail area," said Heather Kipling, director of communications of Albert Health Services, central zone.
Yesterday, cases were also confirmed in the Olds area and Red Deer County.
“As per standard practice for all cases of COVID-19, Alberta Health Services has directly contacted any individual considered exposed to these cases, and these people are now also in self-isolation and being tested for COVID-19,” Alberta Health spokesperson Melissa Ballantyne said in a written statement provided to the Mountain View Albertan in response to questions about the cases.
“This is called contact tracing, and is done in response to each case of COVID-19 we confirm by lab testing. All individuals exposed to a case are contacted directly by AHS. Only those individuals contacted directly by AHS, are considered exposed to any case.
“If you are not contacted directly by AHS, you are not considered exposed. So as to protect patient privacy, no further patient details will be provided.”
Citing confidentiality rules, she declined to say whether the cases noted on the government's map in the area are travel related, or to provide the gender, age or home community of the patients.
Meanwhile, the province has made a change to its COVID-19 testing protocol, with testing now prioritized for individuals who are hospitalized with respiratory illness, residents of continuing care and other similar facilities, people who have returned from travelling abroad between March 8 and 12 before self-isolation protocols were in place, and health-care workers with respiratory symptoms.
“Changing our testing protocols will allow us to focus Alberta’s testing capacity on those most at risk,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health.
“It will enable us to strategically use our testing resources. Our new approach reflects the fact that the most important thing anyone can do if they have mild symptoms isn’t to get tested. It’s to stay home and self-isolate.”
Anyone with symptoms who does not fit any of these categories should stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from the start of their symptoms or until symptoms resolve, whichever is longer, she said.
The province’s online assessment tool – located at ahs.ca/covid – has been updated to reflect the change in testing for returning travellers.
- With files from Johnnie Bachusky
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