Alberta health officials have conducted 18 tests for coronavirus; no confirmed cases

Alberta health officials revealed Friday they have tested 18 people for the novel coronavirus since Jan. 1 but zero cases have been confirmed.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, chief medical officer of health, said the risk of contracting the virus in Alberta is still extremely low.

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This is the first time officials have released the number of times they’ve tested for coronavirus. Hinshaw previously stressed the important number was zero: “Zero probable, zero confirmed cases.”

“The cases that we’re testing are cases that could potentially have been exposed through travel,” she said Jan. 27. “But we’re being very precautionary with respect to the cases that we’re testing, so the number of cases being tested is not an indication of risk to the public.

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Hinshaw said officials are looking at travel history and whether anyone has been in contact with a confirmed case, though she said that has not yet happened.

Risk of the coronavirus continues to be low: Alberta health officials

Risk of the coronavirus continues to be low: Alberta health officials

Still, preparations are being made behind the scenes to ensure the Alberta health system is ready. The Emergency Operations Centre is at a Level 2, which means there’s more information being shared between different departments.

“This, again, isn’t a measure we’re taking because the risk has changed; this is a measure we’re taking because, as you can imagine there’s a lot of attention on this,” Hinshaw said Friday.

“We need to make sure our communications are well coordinated.”

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She added there’s been some misinformation being spread online, including a rumour about a T&T Supermarket in Ontario. The store had to issue a statement stressing it was in no way linked to the coronavirus.

Hinshaw added Friday that people should be getting their information from a reliable source.

“The best antidote to misinformation is to provide accurate information as much as we can, and we need to coordinate that across government, coordinate that with Alberta Health Services.

“One of the things we’re doing is proactively putting out a great deal of information through our social media channels so there is accurate information within those channels.”

Alberta health officials testing people for coronavirus if ‘there’s any suspicion’

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause respiratory illnesses in people, ranging from mild common colds to severe illnesses. Novel coronaviruses are new strains of the virus that have not been previously identified in humans.

Hinshaw said there are a few reasons why people may be so fearful about the coronavirus.

“This is a new virus. It’s jumped from an animal reservoir to humans… it’s really natural that people are feeling afraid about something that’s new,” she said.

However, it is more likely Albertans will contract the flu than the coronavirus.

Anyone with concerns about possible exposure or potential symptoms can call Health Link at 811. For more information on the coronavirus, visit Alberta Health Service’s website.

(C) 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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