Alberta doubling coronavirus testing capacity with new equipment

May 5 2020, 3:53 pm

Alberta could be testing up to 16,000 people a day thanks to an increase in its COVID-19 testing capacity.

The province announced on Tuesday that a $4.5 million investment was being made towards new virus detecting equipment that would increase its coronavirus response, as well as provide new equipment for other forms of virus testing including the seasonal flu.

Calgary Health Trust is donating $1.7 million, while the remainder will be footed by Alberta Health Services and the Province of Alberta.

“Our ability to maintain COVID-19 testing capacity at the highest levels in Canada is critical to Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy,” said Premier Jason Kenney in the release.

“I want to thank Calgary Health Trust and its donors for their generous contribution at this challenging time. Through continued support and ongoing vigilance, together we will slow the spread of the virus and reopen Alberta.”

Alberta currently carries out around 5,000 tests per day, and the new investment expects to increase that capacity to 7,000 to 16,000 tests per day.

“With this new testing technology, Albertans have another way to help us flatten the curve and protect our most vulnerable citizens,” said Minister of Health Tyler Shandro in the release.

“By getting tested and providing invaluable data to health professionals, we can have the best possible information to guide and evaluate our relaunch actions.”

Alberta has been permitting any symptomatic individuals to get tested after filling out Alberta Health Service’s online coronavirus self-assessment tool.

The province has also been testing high risk, asymptomatic individuals like those working at known outbreak locations and residents at continuing care centres.

A total of 150,000 tests had been completed in Alberta as of May 1, making the province a national and international leader in per capital testing, the release states.

Once obtained, the new equipment will be placed at sites around the province where they are most needed.

The release states that increased testing capacity is a crucial step in Alberta’s Relaunch Strategy.