Omicron BA.2 Detected in the Northwest Territories

News Type: 
Public Service Announcement

YELLOWKNIFE March 22, 2022 – The Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) is announcing that COVID-19 infections caused by Omicron BA.2 have been detected in two Northwest Territory (NWT) regions. Two BA.2 infections have been confirmed in both Yellowknife and the Beaufort Delta region.

At this time there is no indication that the BA.2 variant results in a more severe illness compared to infections caused by BA.1. Researchers estimate that BA.2 is about 30 percent more transmissible than the Omicron BA.1 variant. With this increased transmissibility, the NWT should expect either a slower decline in cases or an increase in the true number of COVID-19 infections in the coming weeks. Additional cases attributed to the Omicron BA.2 variant are expected to be confirmed in additional NWT communities.

The arrival of BA.2 does not change the timeline for the ending the NWT Public Health Emergency. On April 1, 2022, there will no longer be any active Public Health Orders in the NWT. Communities must continue to assess risk and create protective environments for everyone, especially those at high risk of severe health outcomes. Practicing healthy habits, gathering outdoors where possible, masking while in crowded public spaces and staying home when feeling sick, all remain important ways to protect one another.

Vaccines continue to provide protection against new variants. Current data shows that vaccines provide similar protection for both the Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 variants. There is strong evidence that two doses of vaccine protect against hospitalization and severe outcomes of COVID-19. Keeping up to date with vaccines and receiving a booster dose maximizes protection against severe health outcomes, especially for those at the highest risk. Booster doses are especially important due to waning immunity over an interval of six or more months.

Wastewater samples collected across the NWT continue to be accurate indicators of COVID-19 activity in communities. Wastewater from Inuvik, analyzed on March 21, 2022, indicates a high level of COVID-19 activity in the community.

Attribution

All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.

Media Contact

Richard Makohoniuk
Manager, COVID Communications
COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat
Department of Health and Social Services
Government of the Northwest Territories
richard_makohoniuk@gov.nt.ca