Serologic tests detect antibodies in the blood, which indicates that the person has been exposed to the COVID-19 virus in the past.
The data, extrapolated to the general population, gives public health officials some insight into the spread of the virus.
“We calculate that there were almost 36,000 cases of COVID-19 in Alberta as of May 20,” she said. “By that date, we had identified just over 6,000 cases through swab testing. ”
The numbers indicate that the Alberta screening program had identified about 17% of cases by this point, she said.
“That number may seem low, but it’s actually very good,” said Hinshaw, who noted that serologic studies conducted in British Columbia show that about 12.5% of the estimated cases in the province had been identified up to ‘now.
Similar studies in Spain, Sweden and California, she said, suggested that between 1.3 and 9.7% of cases were identified using swab testing.
“In addition to the data on the number of cases and hospitalizations, this indicates that Alberta’s first efforts to flatten the curve and limit the spread of COVID-19 have been successful,” Hinshaw said.
“The other thing this tells us is that by mid-May, a very small percentage of our population had been infected with COVID-19. ”
The analysis performed in June will be repeated each month to further track the spread.
The province reported five more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday and 113 new cases of the disease.
As of Thursday, there were 1,408 active cases in the province, with 91 people treated in hospital, including 18 in intensive care beds
The deaths reported by Alberta Health on Thursday were all residents of the Good Samaritan Southgate Care Center in Edmonton.
Some of these deaths had already been reported by the establishment itself.
The center is grappling with an outbreak of the disease that has now killed 21 residents and sickened dozens more.
As of Thursday, the center had 54 active cases among residents and 16 among staff members.
There are approximately 180 residents at the facility, at 4225 107th St.
All outside visits have been canceled, additional cleaning staff have been recruited, and the center now checks employees and residents twice a day.
Alberta Health Services considered taking over the day-to-day operations of the center last week, but decided the move was not necessary, Tom McMillan, assistant director of communications for Alberta Health, said on Monday in a statement.
AHS works with the center to provide oversight and leadership and ensure all processes and procedures are up to standard, including securing necessary personnel, McMillan said.
As the health center struggles to contain its outbreak, the number of cases in Alberta continues to rise.
A line graph plotting active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta over the past four months shows a peak wave in late April, followed by a long plateau, then a recent surge that began on July 11 and continues to increase.
The first wave of this graph peaked on April 30, when there were 2,978 active cases in the province. The numbers dropped sharply over the next month and as of May 30, there were 382 cases.
By June 11 – the day before the start of the second phase of Alberta’s recovery – those numbers climbed above 400. A week later they had passed 500 and by July 11 there were 620 cases. active in the province.
This week, that total was over 1,400.