Variant testing in Alberta scaled back as case rates continue to increase

EDMONTON — Starting Saturday, Alberta Precision Laboratories will only test specific samples for COVID-19 variants of concern.

The provincial health lab sent a notice to health care providers Friday saying it will only test samples from specific populations, including hospital and emergency room patients, patients involved in outbreaks, health care staff and people who have recently travelled internationally.

Since Feb. 3, the lab tested all samples of COVID-19 detected in Alberta for variants of concern.

“Positivity rates and overall test volumes of COVID-19 have rapidly increased, necessitating a change in the testing strategy to maintain laboratory capacity and turnaround times,” the memo from the lab said.

The memo stated that populations deemed at a higher risk of infection with a variant of concern or in higher risk places for spreading a variant will be targeted for testing.

For the third day in a row, Alberta broke pandemic records on Saturday for COVID-19 infections reported in one day and total active cases.

Alberta reported 2,433 cases of COVID-19 Saturday, including 1,743 variant of concern cases.

Variant of concern cases currently represent 62.1 per cent of all active COVID-19 infections in the province.

CTV News reached out to the province for comment.

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