The government of Alberta announced changes to COVID-19 measures to ensure health system capacity in the fall for other respiratory viruses.
Alberta’s health system is taking steps to make sure that it is ready to support all patients, including those with COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, which health officials expect to increase this year.
“Our health system will keep protecting Albertans who are exposed to COVID-19 while also ensuring that we are able to handle all other viruses and illnesses. As the majority of us are vaccinated against COVID-19, we are adapting to make sure that the health system is ready to care for all Albertans, whatever their illness. Please get vaccinated to help protect your health and the health of those around you,” said Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro.
Alberta will bring COVID-19 quarantine, isolation, and other measures in line with those used for influenza and other viruses.
Testing for severe cases, provincial monitoring, outbreak management in high-risk settings, and other key measures will remain in place.
Health officials will be able to adapt as needed if hospitalizations due to COVID-19 spike in the future.
“Our top priority is supporting the health of Albertans. COVID-19 is still with us, but we are now in a place where we need to manage it through vaccinations and the proven public health measures used for other communicable viruses. We expect to see increased influenza and other viruses this year, and these changes will make sure the health system is ready and able to support all Albertans in the months ahead,” said the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.
As of July 29, quarantine for close contacts shifted from mandatory to recommended. Isolation for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and for confirmed positive cases is still required.
Unimmunized individuals who know they have been exposed to COVID-19 should monitor for symptoms and seek testing if they become symptomatic.
Anyone who is not fully immunized is recommended to avoid high-risk locations such as continuing care facilities and crowded indoor spaces if they have been in contact with a case in the past 14 days.
All positive cases will continue to be notified. Contact tracers will no longer notify close contacts of exposure, and individuals are asked to inform their close contacts when informed of their positive result.
Mandatory masking remains in acute and continuing care facilities, publicly accessible transit, taxis, and ride-share.
Beginning Aug. 16, provincial mandatory masking orders will be lifted.
Isolation following a positive COVID-19 test result will no longer be required, but strongly recommended, as individuals with symptoms of any respiratory infection should still remain at home until symptoms have resolved.
Testing will be available for Albertans with symptoms when it is needed to help direct patient care decisions.
Public health will focus on investigating severe cases that require hospitalization and any deaths due to COVID-19.
Outbreak management and preventative measures will continue focusing on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as continuing and acute care facilities, community outbreaks will continue to be addressed, and daycares and schools will be supported with measures that would be effective for any respiratory virus if outbreaks are identified.
Health officials will continue to closely monitor hospitalizations and other severe outcomes due to COVID-19 in the province.
Additional measures will be taken, as needed, in specific facilities or areas where an outbreak is occurring leading to severe outcomes.