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Alberta reports 81 new cases of COVID-19; opens testing to anyone with symptoms
EDMONTON -- Dr. Deena Hinshaw confirmed 81 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths Monday.
In total, Alberta has reported 1,732 cases of the novel coronavirus and 46 deaths as a result.
"This is a difficult time. The loss of these lives is a reminder of why we are taking the measures that are implemented now," the chief medical officer of health said. "Preventing the spread prevents deaths."
Over half of Alberta's total cases — 877 — have now recovered from the disease.
AHS TO TEST ANYONE WITH COVID-19 SYMPTOMS
Alberta Health Services conducted 2,465 tests in the past 24 hours.
"Another way preventing the spread is through testing," Hinshaw said.
After clearing the testing backlog of returning travellers, AHS has gradually opened testing for health care workers, first responders, Calgary Zone residents, and effective immediately, the province will begin to test all Albertans with COVID-19 symptoms.
"We have seen from other jurisdiction that have successfully flattened the curve that aggressive testing is essential to controlling the spread," Hinshaw said.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and runny nose. Anyone with these symptoms is first asked to stay home, and then complete the AHS COVID-19 self-assessment form to arrange for a test.
"As long as we maintain our testing and lab capacity, it is my hope that we can continue to offer this broad access to testing," Hinshaw said.
The chief medical officer of health expects there will be an increase in confirmed cases as a result of the testing expansion. However, she indicated the rate of infection has maintained stable at two per cent throughout the pandemic.
Hinshaw says the rate of hospitalization is a more accurate indicator than total case numbers, and will release those trends in the coming days.
"[It] will give us a better picture of the spread over the past several weeks," Hinshaw said.