B.C. has ‘no plans’ to scrap contact tracing, isolation of COVID-19 cases: Health Minister

B.C.’s health minister says the province won’t emulate Alberta’s controversial plans to end COVID-19 contact tracing and mandatory self-isolation for people who test positive.

“We have no plans, none, to change our requirements around self-isolation in B.C. We have no plans, none, to change our approach to contact tracing in B.C.,” Adrian Dix said at a Friday briefing.

Read more: B.C. records 243 new cases of COVID-19 in only 24 hours, with more than half in Interior

Dix did not directly address concerns the new Alberta measures could result in more transmission in B.C., as Albertans travelled west for holiday.

He said B.C. remained focused on raising vaccination rates, particularly in the Interior, where the Central Okanagan is facing a new outbreak, and communicating public health information.

“I don’t want to caricature what they’re doing there. They have outstanding public leadership in Alberta,” Dix said.

“No one needs to take an approach of blame here, we need to work and encourage and support communities and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Click to play video: 'Alberta health minister defends changes to COVID-19 protocols amidst mounting opposition' 2:08 Alberta health minister defends changes to COVID-19 protocols amidst mounting opposition

Alberta health minister defends changes to COVID-19 protocols amidst mounting opposition

Contact tracers in Alberta are no longer notifying close contacts of COVID-19 cases of an exposure, nor legally requiring them to isolate.

Read more: Canada’s top doctors say Alberta’s COVID-19 plan could have ripple effects across the country

Effective Aug. 16, Alberta Health says people who test positive for the virus will no longer be required to self-isolate either, though it will remain “strongly recommended.”

Doctors led protests in Calgary and Edmonton on Friday in opposition to the relaxed health measures.

Earlier Friday, federal Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam addressed Alberta’s approach.

Click to play video: 'Is Alberta lifting pandemic protocols too soon?' 2:18 Is Alberta lifting pandemic protocols too soon?

Is Alberta lifting pandemic protocols too soon?

“I firmly believe that quarantine and isolation can help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially in light of the spread of the Delta variant,” Tam said.

As of Friday, Alberta had the most active cases of COVID-19 of any Canadian province. The Delta variant has also become dominant.

Read more: Alberta taking ‘risky gamble’ by ending COVID isolation: Canadian Paediatric Society

Dr. Howard Njoo, the country’s deputy chief public health officer, also raised concerns Alberta’s relaxed measures could have a ripple effect in other provinces.

“Everyone is alive to the fact that there could be, as they say, ‘knock-on effects’ to the other provinces and territories with travel within Canada,” he said.

B.C. reported 243 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, a two-month high. More than half of those cases were in the province’s Interior.

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