Alberta Piloting ‘Pool Testing’ to Expand COVID-19 Testing Capacity

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In her COVID-19 update Thursday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said of the 316,000 asymptomatic tests that had been done so far, only 0.1% had returned positive. At this rate, even if five asymptomatic samples are tested at a time, the probability of a positive test in the pool would be less than half a percent.

Pooled testing is just one of the ways Alberta plans to increase its testing capacity before September. Hinshaw said in early August that the province hoped to double its capacity. Currently, Alberta has the capacity to test up to 16,000 people per day, but average daily testing rates hover around 8,000 people.

On August 5, AHS launched a call for proposals to private providers who can perform COVID-19 swabs and tests on a contract basis, particularly for asymptomatic testing in rural areas.

All proposals are expected to be submitted by Monday. Even after private groups began testing, AHS said it would continue to perform all testing on Albertans who are symptomatic, who are in close contact with a known case, or who are in epidemics or care facilities. continuous.

The province is also hiring additional data entry clerks and lab assistants to alleviate the load in the Alberta precision lab.

“Additionally, APL provides additional automation for COVID-19 testing,” Wood said. “These approaches will help improve overall efficiency, reduce wait times for results, and allow us to increase our daily capacity to collect and test for COVID-19.”

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