Wastewater Surveillance Signals Undetected COVID-19 in Hay River
HAY RIVER January 13, 2021 – Wastewater samples analyzed in Hay River from January 1 to 6, 2021 has signaled undetected COVID-19.
The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer is confident that this positive signal indicates that there is likely at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Hay River.
It is possible that this signal is from one or more individuals who have travelled and who are now appropriately self-isolating or even left the territory.
But it is also possible that COVID-19 has been transmitted to others.
Currently, there is not enough information to confidently assess public risk.
But with evidence pointing towards at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Hay River, we are asking the public to assists us in containing the situation quickly and prevent ongoing transmission.
Results from individuals presenting for diagnostic testing and additional wastewater surveillance analysis expected in the coming days will allow us to better characterize the risk to the public in Hay River and the NWT.
What You Need to Do
If between January 1 to January 6, you were in Hay River or K'atlo'deeche First Nation (KFN) and at any stage of your self-isolation because you entered the NWT from another jurisdiction, you should get tested now even if you don’t have symptoms.
Essential services workers who were not self-isolating because they received an exemption to work who were in Hay River or KFN between January 1 and January 6 should also be tested.
This recommendation to get tested does not apply to high-risk essential service workers without symptoms who were already tested as part of their permission to work (e.g. health care workers).
These workers should continue to follow the routine advice from their employer or permission to work letter.
Those who are self-isolating because someone else in the household has travelled should continue self-isolating. They do not need to get tested unless they develop symptoms.
If anyone in the home develops any symptoms of COVID-19, they should contact their local public health unit and arrange for testing.
Otherwise, public health guidance in Hay River and NWT remains the same:
- Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, especially household members of someone who was isolating in Hay River during the time frame above, should arrange testing for COVID-19 and follow isolation guidance.
- follow self-isolation guidance as required
- Stay home if you are sick
- Wear a non-medical mask in public places
How to get Tested in Hay River
- Testing is available at 52 Woodland Drive during the following dates at times:
- January 13: 4:00pm - 8:00pm
- January 14: 8:00am - 8:00pm
- January 15: 8:00am - 8:00pm
- Call public health at 867-874-8400 to book your appointment. If the line is busy, try again.
- Staff will take your call.
- Tell them you have recently travelled or were self-isolating between January 1 and January 6 and that you need to be tested for COVID-19.
- Staff will take your name and number and set up a call-back with a Public Health Nurse.
- A Public Health Nurse will call you back, complete screening, and help you set up your appointment.
- If you do not have transportation, the public health nurse will discuss options for getting you safely tested.
- When you come, please wear your mask.
- When you arrive, follow the signage to the drive-thru testing area at front of the building. Remember to stay in your vehicle, stay in line, and wait for your turn.
For Those Who Need Testing in Other Communities
- Contact your local health centre or public health unit.
- Inform them you were self-isolating between January 1 and January 6 and require a COVID-19 test.
- Follow all directions from health care providers on getting tested safely at the health centre or public health unit.
Remember: please do not go to the health centre or public health unit without booking an appointment or calling ahead – especially if you are being tested in Hay River.
It is very important to control patient flow so people are not put at risk with bigger crowds, and the facility does not get overloaded.
Confidential and supportive
If you do receive a positive COVID-19 test, public health officials will work with you to confidentially investigate any people you saw recently who may be at-risk, and any locations where there may have been an exposure risk.
Your information will be kept confidential and public health officials will follow-up on your well-being regularly throughout your isolation period to help keep you safe.
Wastewater testing basics
Regular collection of wastewater from Hay River began in late December 2020.
The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) receives results from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg weekly.
NML analyzes the samples to determine if COVID-19 is present or absent. When there are known individuals with COVID-19 in the community, public health expects signals from wastewater too.
Unexpected results include positive wastewater signals without known COVID-19 infections, or if we interpret the signal strength as meaning there are more infections than we know about.
With unexpected wastewater results, public health will take actions which include recommending testing of those who recently travelled into the community to identify people with COVID-19.
Currently, the NWT’s largest risk for COVID-19 comes from individuals who have travelled outside the NWT since all cases thus far have been linked to travel.
All commentary is attributable to Dr. Andy Delli-Pizzi, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.