Contrary to what social media posts claim, COVID-19 cases in Canada’s Alberta province are not reported without a lab test confirmation, the local government has said.
As evidence to claim that the Canadian province is “inflating” or “manipulating” COVID-19 figures, some social media users refer to a statement by Chief Medical Officer Deena Hinshaw from Sept. 23, but her statement has been taken out of context.
Most posts highlight the following quote: “If individuals choose to not get tested for COVID but are home with an illness, they’re now counted in the list as being part of that outbreak. We are as I mentioned working with education to determine if there are any adjustments that need to be made.”
Users appear to interpret this to mean that any person feeling sick is counted in the province’s tally as having COVID-19 ( here).
This is, however, how the province has counted cases of illness in any outbreak in school settings – COVID-19 or not – and is not proof that they are “manipulating” COVID-19 numbers.
The clip shows a fragment of Hinshaw’s answer to a reporter about the province’s strategy regarding school outbreaks ( youtu.be/QHDUEVFuQvA?t=1781 ), which at the time did not include individual case notifications of COVID-19, CBC reported here .
As explained in previous guidance ( here ), the Alberta Health System may declare “an outbreak” of a disease, including (but not limited to) COVID-19, in schools where absenteeism of 10% or more has been identified.
In a tweet from Sept. 27, the Alberta Province government stated that the list referenced by Hinshaw in the clip “is reported absences at Alberta schools” which are not included in the daily COVID-19 case count “unless they have been confirmed by a lab test” ( here).
“The suggestion that we record school cases as covid without a test result is a sheer invention, it is grossly false. We never record a case as covid without a test result or in rare cases a clinical diagnosis to be confirmed by testing,” Steve Buick, Press Secretary of the Health Ministry told Reuters via email on Oct. 11.
As of Oct. 6 “school COVID-19 outbreaks will be reported at 10 or more COVID-19 cases with 14 day period that were infectious while at school” and schools with at least two COVID-19 cases will be listed online in Alberta Health’s website ( here )
Reuters previously debunked misinformation about COVID-19 restrictions in the Alberta Province here
False. This clip is not evidence of COVID-19 case number manipulation in Canada’s Alberta province. Rather, the Chief Medical Officer was answering a question about how infection thresholds are counted for disease outbreaks in school settings.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.