Alberta is backtracking on its decision to lift more COVID-19 measures, as cases continue to rise across the province.
Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, made the announcement Friday morning.
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Hinshaw says two items have emerged to cause an adjustment to the province’s approach in rolling back its COVID-19 measures: higher hospitalization rates and paediatric cases of the delta variant in the United States.
“Current non-ICU’s in Alberta are trending somewhat higher than anticipated,” said Hinshaw. “We anticipated about 90 in hospital, compared to 146 today, an increase of 62% over projections.”
The second reason for the pause was evidence of paediatric cases of the delta variant in the United States, however Hinshaw stressed it’s a precaution.
“Since July 1, we have only had seven cases in hospital under the age of 18,” she added.
The COVID-19 measures were set to lift on Monday, but will now be in place for the next six weeks until at least September 27.
The change means the following:
- Mandatory masking orders in publicly accessible transit, taxis and ride-shares.
- Mandatory isolation for 10 days for those with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result.
- Testing at assessment centres for any symptomatic individual.
“We are not going backwards, we are pausing to monitor and access before taking the next step forwards,” said Hinshaw.
“This will allow more time to monitor and increase vaccination levels.”
The previous changes made on July 29 to COVID-19 measures remain in effect and include:
- Quarantine for close contacts is recommended (previously mandatory).
- Contact tracers are no longer notifying close contacts about exposure to COVID-19. Individuals are asked to tell their close contacts when informed of their positive result. All positive cases will continue to be notified. Contact tracers will continue to investigate cases that are in high-risk settings such as acute and continuing care facilities.
- Outbreak management and identification will focus on high-risk locations, including continuing care and acute care facilities. Community outbreaks with a surge in cases leading to severe outcomes will also be addressed as needed.
- Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended.
On Thursday Alberta added 550 new COVID-19 cases, with active cases in the province ballooning to more than 4,100.