Alberta adds 146 COVID-19 cases, Hinshaw warns of 'significant challenge' ahead of colder months
EDMONTON -- Alberta's top doctor reported 146 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday as active cases continued to increase in the capital region.
Infections decreased slightly to 1,483 across Alberta as its two biggest cities go in the opposite direction.
Edmonton saw its cases spike to 672, while Calgary's cases declined from 447 to 416.
Forty-one Albertans with COVID-19 are receiving care in hospital, with eight of them in intensive care.
There were no new COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday, keeping the count at 254.
Alberta has reported 16,274 cases of COVID-19 since March.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health, said provincial labs are expecting a surge in testing during the winter months.
"We're facing a significant challenge over the coming months. COVID-19 is still here and is not going anywhere," Hinshaw said. "At the same time, influenza season will soon begin. This means that in addition to potentially contracting COVID-19, Albertans will have a greater chance of catching a cold or flu, which have very similar symptoms to COVID-19."
As a result, Hinshaw is making changes to the province's testing approach and is no longer recommending Albertans without symptoms or a known exposure to get tested.
Alberta Health Services conducted more than 233,000 voluntary asymptomatic tests since May and found that seven per 10,000 people tested positive — a "tremendous" figure, according to Hinshaw.
"This means it is very rare to find cases in those without symptoms and without known exposure," she said.
Albertans with symptoms or known exposures can still get tested for the coronavirus. The same goes for health care workers, teachers and school staff, residents and staff in congregate setting and people experiencing homelessness.
"This is the best way to limit the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of Albertans during the winter and flu season," Hinshaw said.
Albertans with no symptoms or known exposures who had previously booked a test are still allowed to go.
AHS has conducted 1,169,378 tests since March.