OLDS – The Olds area has recorded its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus, officials said.
As of Sunday there were 269 confirmed cases in the province, including one in Red Deer County and one in the Olds area, according to the provincial government's geospatial mapping of confirmed cases.
“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 statement provided to the Albertan.
“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 either case noted on the government's map in the area is 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.
As of press time Monday, the number of recovered cases was officially at three, although the province is working on a longer-term process for determining timely reporting of recovered cases is now underway, officials said.
COVID-19 UPDATE: Follow our COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.