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“We are investigating the reasons for the lower tests and, at the moment, we have no specific cause for that,” said Hinshaw, who noted that there are no delays in provincial laboratories.
She also said that testing policies have not changed and encouraged those with possible coronavirus symptoms, 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 tracking system recovered after the difficulties in late 2020. Hinshaw said that contact trackers are able to reach all high-priority COVID-19 cases within 24 hours, including those involving school children. care workers, long-term care workers and those involved in the critical response.
The province continues to prioritize contact tracking for other cases involving minors and long-term care workers or residents.
About 47% of active cases in Alberta are still of unknown origin, compared to about 80% in mid-December.
An Alberta school is on “alert” status with a single COVID-19 case following the restart of face-to-face classes this week.
Hinshaw added that the province has so far identified a case of South Africa’s COVID-19 variant, along with five cases of the UK variant.
South Africa’s COVID-19 variant is distinct from that originally found in the UK, but the two mutations share a key attribute: they are believed to be significantly more contagious than the currently prevalent strain of the virus.
“They were people who recently traveled internationally,” said Hinshaw, noting that there was a “small amount” of domestic transmission in one case.
“At the moment, we have no evidence that either of these two variants is spreading in our community.”