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Calgary Zone opens COVID-19 testing for anyone showing symptoms

The new testing criteria allows people who are symptomatic and living in the Calgary region, which includes Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise and Exshaw, to get tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus
20200326 Canmore Sign COVID 19 0010
A sign along Highway 1A near the entrance to Canmore notifies drivers to stay home to help stop the speed of COVID-19. EVAN BUHLER RMO PHOTO⁠

ALBERTA – The provincial government has now approved COVID-19 testing for anyone symptomatic living in the Calgary zone. 

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced the additional changes in the testing criteria, during a press conference on April 8, to expand the testing to anyone showing COVID-19 symptoms and living in Calgary zone, which includes Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise and Exshaw.

“Although none of us needs a lab test to do the right thing, we are making some additional changes in our testing criteria to ensure we have as much information as possible,” Hinshaw said.

This now means anyone who has a cough, fever, runny nose or shortness of breath is now eligible for COVID-19 testing where it is available. In addition, the testing is being opened to essential service workers across the province that show the same symptoms and anyone in the province who had symptoms and lives with someone over 65 years old.

“I know people are anxious to resume their normal lives. My family is too,” Hinshaw said.

“As I’ve said before, this is our ‘new normal’ for right now. Each and every one of us must continue to do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is in our hands and we can do it together.”

The province had 1,451 positive COVID-19 cases with 32 deaths reported and 592 confirmed recovered cases, as of April 9. Officials suspect 192 cases are community-acquired. 

Calgary has had the highest number of positive cases per zone with the Calgary zone accounting for 61 per cent of COVID-19 cases in the province.

As of April 9, the Bow Valley had 17 positive cases. In the Municipal District of Bighorn region, formerly known as the Canmore region, which includes Canmore and some MD hamlets, there were 14 positive cases – nine active and five recovered. The ID No. 9 region, formerly known as the Banff region, which included Banff and Lake Louise had three positive cases – all active.

Dr. Hinshaw also asked people who are currently ill to continue to stay at home for 10 days from the date of the symptom onset or until their symptoms resolve, whichever is longer. 

The provincial government declared a state of public health emergency on March 17, putting in aggressive restrictions in the following weeks, including ordering non-essential businesses to close and limiting public gatherings to a maximum of 15 people. 

Government officials have also asked Albertans to stay at home in the coming weeks with recently revealed projections showing two scenarios.

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney showcased a probable scenario and elevated scenario on April 8.

The probable scenario works of the assumption that for every identified case of COVID-19 in the province there are one or two more infected people that go undetected.  This model shows a relative success in containing the spread of the virus.

The probable scenario predicts that the peak of the virus could occur in mid-May and would see a total of approximately 800,000 infections with between 400 and 3,100 deaths.

It was prudent to identify the increased risk of high rates of COVID-19, Kenney said, to help prepare for a potential worst-case scenario the health care system could face.

The elevated scenario would see about one million total infections and between 500 and 6,600 deaths. The peak of the elevated scenario would take place in early May.

"The coming days and weeks are critical. The cooperation of all Albertans is needed,” Hinshaw said. 

“Each and every one of us must continue to do everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus – this is in our hands and we can do this together.”

The Calgary zone includes Airdrie, Banff, Black Diamond, Bragg Creek, Carstairs, Calgary, Canmore, Chestermere, Claresholm, Cochrane, Cremona, Crossfield, Didsbury, Eden Valley, Exshaw, High River, Gleichen, Lake Louise, Langdon, Longview, Morley, Nanton, Okotoks, Siksika Nation, Strathmore, Turner Valley and Vulcan.

– with files from Chelsea Kemp

 

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