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Rise in COVID-19 cases among students despite fewer tests

Last Updated Oct 23, 2020 at 11:05 am MST

Students sanitize their hands before walking into school. (CREDIT: The Canadian Press)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – As Alberta sets another record for daily COVID-19 cases, more school-aged kids are seeing tests come back positive, even as fewer students are being tested.

The numbers show daily cases between five- and nine-year-olds are starting to increase and those between 10 and 19 are surging.

While there was a spike of testing among kids at the start of the school year, that’s gone down.

The province’s top doctor, Deena Hinshaw, said it’s more of a challenge to convey the COVID-19 message with a demographic that needs valuable social interactions to thrive.

“We have been working with a grant-funded group on focus groups to understand what kinds of messages resonate. There are some surveys in the works to try and help us understand what kinds of messages and what kinds of platforms will be more effective. Unfortunately, there is no single solution.”

WATCH: More COVID-19 exposures and outbreaks in Alberta schools

As of Friday morning, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said there are 561 active cases in schools across Alberta with 69 reporting in-school transmissions.

Roughly 381 schools have confirmed cases of the virus, 87 are in outbreak status while 27 are under a COVID-19 watch.

With the rise in cases, Hinshaw said health officials are working on trying to convey a message of caution to students.

“I think it’s challenging for people in a younger demographic where they, personally, don’t have the same high-risk of severe outcomes. Ultimately, it really does boil down to making sure that we keep trying and we do keep adjusting when needed.”

Alberta reported a record 427 new cases on Thursday, increasing active infections to over 3,500.