By mid-August, Alberta will have eliminated the majority of COVID-19 isolation and testing requirements.

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According to the province’s chief medical officer of health, Albertans who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be required to undergo isolation beginning in less than three weeks. The shift is part of a slew of public health changes aimed at assisting the healthcare system in dealing with developing concerns such as seasonal influenza, according to Dr. Deena Hinshaw during a news conference.

While the recent increase in COVID-19 cases has prompted some concern, she believes that increased vaccination rates are reducing the possibility of poor outcomes and burdens on the healthcare system. As a consequence, the province will begin developing COVID-19 guidelines, which will be comparable to those used for the flu and other infectious diseases.

Changes to some rules and procedures will be introduced in two stages over the course of a few weeks. Starting Thursday, anybody with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result must isolate, although quarantine for close contacts is suggested but not required, according to a government announcement.

She said that quarantine could be necessary for some “high-risk situations or for epidemic control.” Anyone who tests positive will be alerted, but contact tracers will no longer alert close contacts to their exposure. Those who test positive will bear this burden. Contact tracers will continue to look into instances in high-risk settings, such as acute and long-term care institutions.

Outbreak management will also concentrate on high-risk environments, such as “high-risk employment.” The statement states that community breakouts with a rise of catastrophic outcomes would be “handled as appropriate.” Asymptomatic testing of contactd will no longer be advised during Phase 1, although testing will still be accessible to those who exhibit symptoms.

“In the coming months, this will assist cut wait times and assure fast results,” Hinshaw added. Mask regulations are still in place while entering acute- and continuing-care institutions, as well as when traveling in public transportation, taxis, or ride-sharing cars.

Officials will evaluate the impact of these adjustments and adjust them as required during the following two weeks, according to Hinshaw. Hinshaw stated that while universal masking would not be necessary for schools until kids return, masks can be used as a short outbreak intervention in response to respiratory epidemics.

The statement states that COVID-19 testing, provincial surveillance, outbreak management in high-risk situations, and “other critical safeguards” would continue in place.