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“We have been looking into the reasons for lower tests and at the moment we don’t have any specific cause for it,” said Hinshaw, who noted there is no backlog in the province’s labs.
She also said testing policies haven’t changed and encouraged those with possible symptoms of the coronavirus, as well as those who are close contacts of confirmed cases or who have been exposed to outbreaks, to get tested.
Meanwhile, the province’s contact tracing system has rebounded following difficulties toward the end of 2020. Hinshaw said contact tracers are able to reach out within 24 hours to all high-priority cases of COVID-19, including those involving school-aged children, health-care workers, long-term care workers and those who are involved in critical response.
The province continues to prioritize contact tracing for other cases involving minors and workers or residents of continuing care.
Around 47 per cent of active cases across Alberta still have an unknown source, down from about 80 per cent in mid-December.
One Alberta school is on “alert” status with a single COVID-19 case after in-person classes resumed this week.
Hinshaw added the province has so far identified one case of the South Africa COVID-19 variant, along with five cases of the U.K. variant.
The South Africa COVID-19 variant is distinct from the one originally found in the U.K., but the two mutations share a key attribute: they are thought to be significantly more contagious than the currently predominant strain of the virus.
“They were people who recently travelled internationally,” said Hinshaw, noting there was a “small amount” of household transmission in one case.
“At this point in time we have no evidence that either of those two variants is spreading in our community.”