YELLOWKNIFE June 14, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) has declared the outbreak at N.J. Macpherson School over. The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) initially declared an outbreak on May 2, 2021.
The last person who acquired COVID-19 from their exposure at school was diagnosed on May 14. The last person who acquired infection at home due to this outbreak was diagnosed on May 20.
The total number of confirmed cases related to the outbreak was 71. All individuals with COVID-19 have recovered. There were no hospitalizations related to the outbreak. All individuals in isolation due to the outbreak have completed their isolation requirements.
Impact of the outbreak
The OCPHO recognizes that the N.J. Macpherson School outbreak produced significant impacts in the NWT. Public health nurses and health care workers in Yellowknife provided ongoing assessment and health services for those who were diagnosed with COVID-19 or had to isolate due to being a contact of someone with COVID-19. Most of all, the outbreak impacted families, and residents in Yellowknife, Behchokǫ̀, Dettah, and Ndilǫ. Individuals and families were required isolate for prolonged periods, which was very challenging. The OCPHO wishes to acknowledge the selflessness of those who isolated to keep their friends, families, co-workers and communities safe, and all of those who supported these individuals during this period. Without these efforts, the outbreak could have turned out much differently.
Context for Outbreak Declaration
The NWT defines an outbreak in a closed facility, which includes schools, as one or more confirmed or probable case(s) of COVID-19 where infection is acquired within the facility.
Public Health Orders
The OCPHO is reminding all residents of Yellowknife, Behchokǫ̀, Dettah, and Ndilǫ that the mandatory requirement to wear face masks in all indoor public places is still in effect. This Public Health Order will remain in effect until June 28, 2021, which will be after the end of the school year in all four communities, as a protective measure to prevent transmission, especially in schools in case of another introduction of COVID-19.
Knowing the COVID-19 risks to you and your community is important to make the best choices about planning events and gatherings or travel. NWT residents should review current restrictions in place and be aware of anticipated changes in the coming weeks and months. Residents are strongly encouraged to use the Emerging Wisely 2021: Step by Step Together personal risk guidance materials and follow healthy habits as applicable. They should also be aware of COVID-19 hotspots in other jurisdictions.
All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.