'Alberta is throwing out public health measures’: Canada’s doctors baffled after province aims to drop COVID-19 masking, isolation

·4 min read

Effective Thursday, close contacts of a COVID-19 case in Alberta are no longer required to isolate after exposure, unless the individual has COVID-19 symptoms or is confirmed positive.

"Our top priority is supporting the health of Albertans. COVID-19 is still with us but we are now in a place where we need to manage it through vaccinations and the proven public health measures used for other communicable viruses," a statement from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health reads. 

We expect to see increased influenza and other viruses this year, and these changes will make sure the health system is ready and able to support all Albertans in the months ahead.Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health

This change is one in a series of changes of public health measures the Alberta government is putting in place after over 75 per cent of eligible Albertans have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 64 per cent are fully immunized.

Other changes to public health measures coming into effect on Thursday include:

  • Contact tracers will no longer notify close contacts of exposure but will continue to investigate cases in high-risk setting like acute and continuing care facilities

  • Outbreak management and identification will focus on high-risk locations

  • Asymptomatic testing is no longer recommended but tests will be available to individuals who are symptomatic

A number of other rules will change in Alberta on Aug. 16. This includes:

  • Provincial mandatory masking orders will be lifted but may be required in some acute care or continuing care settings

  • Isolation following a positive COVID-19 test result will no longer be required

  • Isolation hotels and quarantine support will no longer be available

  • Testing will be available through assessment centres until Aug. 31 and after that tests will be in primary care settings, including physicians’ offices, for those with severe illness and offered to those in in high-risk outbreaks

"Our health system will keep protecting Albertans who are exposed to COVID-19 while also ensuring that we are able to handle all other viruses and illnesses," a statement from Tyler Shandro, Alberta's Minister of Health said.

"As the majority of us are vaccinated against COVID-19, we are adapting to make sure that the health system is ready to care for all Albertans, whatever their illness. Please get vaccinated to help protect your health and the health of those around you."

Following this announcement, health experts in Canada took to social media to share their thoughts on the provincial government's changes.

Other Canadians have also been commenting on the new Alberta rules, with many people expressing their concern.

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