Alberta has recorded 418 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death due to the disease over the past three days.
The person who died over the weekend was a woman in her 70s from the Edmonton zone who Alberta Health said was not in continuing care.
The province’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Monday that Alberta recorded 105 new cases on Friday, 173 new cases on Saturday and 140 new cases on Sunday.
Hinshaw noted that Alberta set a provincial record for the number of coronavirus tests completed on Saturday with 18,919.
Hinshaw said extra staff were brought in over the weekend for “surge capacity to tackle the backlog of samples.”
“We should not expect daily testing to reach 19,000 tests per day. This has never been our goal to reach this level on a daily basis.”
This message comes despite Premier Jason Kenney saying earlier in the pandemic that Alberta’s plan was to turn around as many as 20,000 tests per day.
Hinshaw said when it comes to the number of tests conducted each day, the intention has never been to test that capacity every single day — there needs to be surge capacity.
“We need to have the ability to move through 20,000 tests in a single day if we should need to. And as we’re looking at the fall, we know that we need to be able to move into a surge capacity if we should get increased circulation of other viruses like influenza, if we should see an increased spread of COVID-19 — that we do need to have that ability to test that many people in a single day. But there’s a difference between surge capacity — being able to test a certain number of people in a particular day — and the requirement to test that many people every single day for months and months. So I think that that distinction has perhaps been lost,” she said.
“As the lab has demonstrated, we have that surge capacity that we committed to having. But we do not need to maintain that capacity every single day. We need to focus on moving our highest-priority samples through as quickly as possible.”
Hinshaw said the case numbers over the weekend, despite being a bit higher than the past few weeks, are still manageable by public health.
As of Monday, 15,833 cases of COVID-19 and 254 deaths related to the disease have been identified in Alberta since the beginning of the pandemic.
There were 1,538 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta on Monday. Of those, 654 are in the Edmonton zone, 557 are in the Calgary zone, 232 are in the North zone, 49 are in the Central zone, 38 are in the South zone and eight are not tied to any specific zone.
Three Alberta schools declared COVID-19 outbreaks over the weekend — Ross Sheppard High School in Edmonton, Lester B. Pearson High School in Calgary and Auburn Bay School in Calgary.
An outbreak is declared when two or more cases of COVID-19 are confirmed in a school.
In a post on the school’s website, the principal of Lester B. Pearson, Kenneth Chee, said the two cases are separate and no connection has been identified.
The principal of Ross Sheppard said in a letter to parents that the two cases at the high school “are unrelated and neither was contracted or transmitted in our school.” Rick Stanley said 53 Grade 10 students as well as two staff members need to be tested and have been told to self-isolate for 14 days.
A spokesperson with Alberta Health Services confirmed Monday that both people attended the school while infectious and “AHS is already working directly with the school to limit risk of spread.”
Hinshaw said as of Monday, AHS has identified 42 cases of COVID-19 in 35 schools while infectious.
“While the total number of cases is not surprising given the community transmission numbers that we have, again it’s a reflection of the fact that we all really need to do our part to minimize community transmission in order to keep schools as safe as possible and minimize the impact that we’re seeing these cases have in schools,” Hinshaw said.
She stressed that while all outbreaks are still under investigation by AHS, at this point, there is no evidence to suggest transmission within any of the schools that identified cases.
“This means that the virus was brought into the school, rather than being spread inside,” Hinshaw said.
“While we are calling these outbreaks, it is important to keep these in perspective,” Hinshaw said. “A small outbreak of two cases at a school does not indicate that other classes are at risk or that the broader community faces increased risks of being exposed to COVID-19.”
Hinshaw said as the year continues, Alberta will likely see some transmission within schools. She said the goal is to keep that transmission as low as possible, but it cannot be completely avoided.
“Living with COVID-19 means seeking balance between limiting the harms of COVID and limiting the harms of COVID restrictions. This is yet another example of how we need to keep working together to keep each other safe both from COVID-19 and from a need for more aggressive restrictions.”
As of Friday, there were 1,444 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta. Of those, 580 were in the Edmonton zone, 560 were in the Calgary zone, 213 were in the North zone, 45 were in the South zone, 38 were in the South zone and eight were not tied to any specific zone.
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