Probable cases in Fort Liard confirmed; monitoring continues in Yellowknife and Hay River
YELLOWKNIFE January 19, 2021 – The GNWT is providing daily COVID-19 updates during periods of higher COVID-19 activity.
COVID-19 infections in NWT
The NWT has confirmed 30 cases of COVID-19.
There are currently 0 hospitalizations.
Note: probable cases are not included on the NWT’s COVID-19 dashboard. If they are confirmed, they will be added.
A rapid response team is deployed to Fort Liard to assist local health staff in tracing, testing, and isolating individuals connected to positive COVID-19 cases in the community.
The two probable COVID-19 cases identified in yesterday’s update have been confirmed.
This brings the total to 5 confirmed COVID-19 infections in Fort Liard.
No probable cases were identified using point-of-care (rapid) tests since the last update.
Roughly 41 tests were completed yesterday in the community for a total of about 100 since deployment. Rapid response has continued their work throughout the day.
All point-of-care tests are currently verified by further laboratory testing at Stanton Territorial Hospital.
Probable cases are treated the same as confirmed cases in an investigation. Contact tracing and isolation begins immediately while the samples are confirmed.
All diagnoses are in the same cluster, originally connected to out-of-territory travel.
50 contacts are currently isolating.
Public health continues to investigate the source of an infection in Yellowknife.
Any potential cases will continue to be monitored through:
- Wastewater signals
- Symptomatic case testing
- Targeted asymptomatic screening
As time passes, if nothing is detected, confidence will grow that widespread community transmission did not occur and that this was a single locally acquired case with no identified source.
Public health has assessed there is a high probability that the positive wastewater signal in Hay River was connected to the new cluster of COVID-19 infections in Fort Liard.
The situation will be monitored through ongoing wastewater surveillance.
Exposure notifications are issued when health officials do not have confidence that they have been able to get in touch with all contacts of a known COVID-19 case.
There are no active exposure notifications in the NWT.
A lot of people are being called and given advice by health workers because they were contacts of COVID-19 infections.
It’s important to know who would be considered a contact, who wouldn’t, and why.
A contact is someone who public health believes could have spent 15 minutes or more with a person who got COVID-19 and was within six feet of them.
That means just because you saw someone who had COVID-19 while walking around in town or passed them quickly in the store, you don’t have a lot to worry about.
When a contact is identified by public health, they will reach out to the contact to let them know they should be isolating to stop the spread of COVID-19.
An important thing to understand is that people who may have been close to someone who they heard was a contact would likely not also be considered a contact.
You can think of contact tracing as a circle where the confirmed COVID-19 case is in the middle. The next circle out is the “contacts,” who public health has a good reason to believe may have been exposed. These people will need to isolate. But the next circle out is “contacts of contacts.”
At this point, you’re quite far away from the original source of infection, and there is usually a low risk of having been exposed to COVID-19 – especially in the NWT where there is no community transmission yet.
With that low a risk, there’s no reason to be fearful – or to disrupt your life for 14 days.
If you do still have concerns, you can review potential exposures with public health and they will provide advice while protecting confidentiality of community members.
So remember: if you haven’t been contacted by public health and told you’re a contact, if you haven’t spent time with someone who has COVID-19, and you haven’t been in a location at a date and time there was an exposure notification, you have no reason to be worried.
Just stick to healthy habits like physical distancing, hand-washing, and mask-wearing that will help keep you and others safe.
Take care of yourself
This is a stressful time – but we’re still here to help.
In Fort Liard, you can reach your community counsellor at (867) 770-4770.
If you are looking for help afterhours, the NWT Helpline is available 24/7 at 1-800-661-0844.
Contacts for help in Fort Liard
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or if you’ve been told to be tested, call the rapid response team at 867-695-1655.
If you have trouble reaching them, call the health centre at 867-770-4301 for an appointment.
Call 8-1-1 for information on COVID-19 – including assessing your symptoms, or to ask about the containment order.
All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.