Alberta launching rapid COVID-19 testing

The Government of Alberta says it will soon begin piloting point-of-care rapid testing for COVID-19, a move it says will provide faster, more convenient testing for the disease.

Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) have worked over the last two months evaluating the Abbott IDNow and PanBio COVID-19 testing kits and their effectiveness. These kits are approved and provided to the provinces and territories by the federal government, who have provided 100,000 kits to Alberta.

“Alberta has been a leader in testing its citizens for COVID-19 as a critical component of understanding and limiting the spread of the virus,” Minister of Health Tyler Shandro said in a media release Thursday. “Adding point-of-care rapid testing to our COVID-19 testing capacity will allow for the identification and notification of positive COVID-19 cases in under 20 minutes, speeding up the appropriate care and isolation of patients, which will reduce the risk of further spread.”

Tests will be used on patients within the first week of expressing symptoms. The government says this will allow health officials to identify positive cases at testing sites quickly, without need for transporting samples to centralized public labs.

The government says the two rapid testing systems will hit clinical pilot programs at several sites throughout the province in the next few weeks with the PanBio rapid antigen tests used at one assessment centre in both Edmonton and Calgary, and the IDNow tests used at the COVID-19 assessment centres in Slave Lake and St. Paul as well as the hospital lab in Bonnyville.

Provincially, Nov. 26’s data shows 1,077 more confirmed cases in 15,932 tests. The positive test rate is 6.75%, which is lower than the 8% of the past few days. There are 383 in hospital and 84 in ICU.

Locally, Morinville has no new cases or recoveries for the second day for a total of 33 active cases. Sturgeon County has no new cases, two more recoveries for a total of 93 active cases.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw spoke to allegations in a CBC report about secret recordings of meetings between she and government officials, stating an investigation on the recordings will take place.

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