EDMONTON — Starting Aug. 16 in Alberta, people who test positive for COVID-19 won’t have to isolate.
The province is scaling back virus protocols, turning rules into suggestions.
Dr. Deena Hinshaw returned to the podium for the first time in weeks on Wednesday to update the province on Alberta’s fight against the virus and what’s to come.
WATCH: Dr. Deena Hinshaw provides a live update on COVID-19 in Alberta.
Some of the changes that will come into effect Thursday include:
- Quarantine for close contacts will shift from mandatory to recommended, while isolation for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and for confirmed cases is still required.
- Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended. Testing will continue for symptomatic people.
These changes will be part of a two-phase transition that will be monitored by the province and will be updated as needed over the next few weeks.
In part two of the transition, beginning Aug. 16, the following changes will take effect:
- Provincial mandatory mask orders will be lifted.
- Isolation following a positive COVID-19 test will no longer be required, but strongly recommended.
- Isolation hotels and quarantine support will no longer be available.
- Testing will be available for Albertans with symptoms when it is needed to help direct patient care decisions.
- Public health will shift its focus to investigating severe cases of COVID-19.
“These changes are a necessary step forward, one that will let us keep supporting those who become severely ill, but also help us care for those who get sick from the flu or other viruses,” said Hinshaw.
Hinshaw reinforced the fact that nowadays, nearly all of the COVID-19 cases the province is reporting are people who are unvaccinated or are within the two-week window of getting their shot.
“Ninety-five per cent of all cases since January were unvaccinated or were still developing immunity in the early days after a first dose,” said Hinshaw. “The same goes for hospitalizations, where 92 per cent since January had no vaccine or were still within two weeks of their first dose. Just one patient of the 18 in ICU right now was fully vaccinated. All the rest did not have the benefit that two doses offer.”
Hinshaw concluded Wednesday’s update urging Albertans to continue to get vaccinated, including the younger population who feel they are invincible.
“If you are between the ages of 20 and 39, and think you were not at risk from infection, it’s important to know that more than 1,400 Albertans of your age have needed hospital care for COVID-19 over the last 17 months, and 200 have needed ICU care.
“Please get vaccinated.”