YELLOWKNIFE APRIL 25, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) has confirmed one new infection of COVID-19 in Yellowknife.
The individual is a contact of a previously reported case. The person is self-isolating and doing well.
This brings the number of active COVID-19 cases in the NWT to eight. Six are in Yellowknife and two in Fort Smith.
Investigation of Yellowknife situation
In the last week, the OCPHO and Yellowknife Public Health have identified approximately 90 people who are contacts to five cases in Yellowknife that are part of the same cluster. A cluster refers to cases that are clustered in time, geographic location or by common exposure.
With the most recent person diagnosed with COVID-19, all contacts have been notified and there are not any identified public exposures. OCPHO will advise the public if the situation changes.
The confirmed COVID-19 infection related to international travel announced on April 23 has no contacts and is not part of the above-mentioned cluster.
Canadian North Flight 239 update
The OCPHO is aware that Nunavut’s Chief Public Health Officer has confirmed two people with COVID-19 infections travelled on April 23 from Iqaluit and ended their travel in Rankin Inlet on Canadian North Flight 239.
The flight then continued to Yellowknife before departing to its final destination of Edmonton.
There were seven individuals on Canadian North Flight 239 who disembarked in Yellowknife upon arrival.
Public health has followed up with all individuals. NWT residents who disembarked will be required to self-isolate and get tested. Anyone who disembarked in Yellowknife who was only staying for 24 hours or less have been self-isolating and will be repatriated to their home province or territory.
There is no risk to the public identified at this time.
Air travel and COVID-19
With COVID-19 transmissions increasing, people may have questions about the measures in place to protect anyone who must travel by air.
Transport Canada has jurisdiction over air travel and has measures in place related to COVID-19 and air transportation to reduce the spread of the virus in Canada.
Airlines also have measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including strict cleaning routines and high fresh air turnover rates on flights. Recent studies have shown that travelling by air while wearing a non-medical mask is considered lower risk than originally thought at the beginning of the pandemic. All passengers travelling on flights originating from outside the Northwest Territories will go through screening upon arrival.
While there is not zero risk, taken together the measures adequately manage the COVID-19 transmission risk.
Non-essential travel outside the territory is still not recommended at this time.
Healthy habits keep us safe
The pandemic has been challenging for everybody. As COVID risk grows, take control by continuing to practice healthy habits and shrinking gatherings.
We can’t assume that every instance of COVID-19 will be contained. We need to look at our individual and collective behavior to make sure transmission is limited if COVID-19 is present in the community. Practicing healthy habits like wearing masks while indoors, washing your hands frequently and keeping gatherings small are simple ways for you and yours to take some control over transmission risk.
COVID-19 moves quickly in crowds – no matter whether they are traditional, religious, or family get-togethers. It can happen any time there are a lot of people close together.
To prevent transmission, remember the guidance:
- No more than five people you don’t live with at your house.
- No more than 25 for organized indoor public gatherings.
- No more than 50 outside – and remember, wall tents are indoors.
- Keep physical distance of at least six feet, or two metres.
- Bigger, more open spaces are always better.
All commentary is attributable to Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the Northwest Territories.