Loading articles...

Alberta expanding COVID-19 testing to all staff and residents at long term care facilities

Last Updated Apr 17, 2020 at 7:25 pm MDT

Laboratory Scientist Andrea Luquette cultures coronavirus to prepare for testing at U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., Thursday, March 19, 2020, where scientists are working to help develop solutions to prevent, detect and treat the coronavirus. THE CANDADIAN PRESS/AP, Andrew Harnik

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta plans to test asymptomatic staff and residents at long term continuing care facilities that have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks.

Alberta currently has 50 deaths related to coronavirus, 32 of those have occurred in these facilities across the province.

“I know that people who have loved ones in long term care and continuing care facilities are concerned about the risk of infection at these sights. I am too,” Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday.

“It is not acceptable that elderly Albertans are being put at risk in a place where their health is supposed to be protected.”

Hinshaw announced 34 long term care homes in the province have at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

The expanded testing will not allow for facilities to ease current outbreak measures and provides an opportunity for health officials to have a better chance of early identification of new cases.

“Given that we now know people who may be infected with COVID-19 can potentially spread the illness before they show symptoms, testing more residents and staff in continuing care facilities will help us prevent further infections and deaths,” Hinshaw said.

There are challenges when testing people who show no symptoms, as Hinsahw explains it’s only a “snapshot in time” which means a person whose results come back negative does not mean they won’t contract the virus later.

The province announced earlier this week it was expanding its testing protocols to anyone who has a fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and shortness of breath.

To date, there have been 89,144 people tested for COVID-19 and a total of 92,805 tests performed by the lab.