Updates to Public Health Orders

News Type: 
Advisories

YELLOWKNIFE August 25, 2021 – The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) is announcing changes to three Public Health Orders, introducing a fourth masking order and delaying further relaxation of Emerging Wisely 2021.

  1. Colville Lake temporary COVID-19 Restrictions: extended to Sept. 4, 2021

  2. Fort Good Hope temporary COVID-19 Restrictions: extended to Sept. 4, 2021

Anyone in Fort Good Hope or Colville Lake who tested positive for COVID-19 (and including anyone who lives with them) must self-isolate until a health care provider informs them they are recovered. Recovered means:

  • 10 full days have passed after COVID-19 symptoms started and a person did not have a severe COVID-19 infection; OR
  • 10 full days have passed since their positive COVID-19 test (if they did not have any symptoms)
  • Once recovered, this containment order no longer applies to them.

Rationale

As some residents in both Colville Lake and Fort Good recover from COVID-19, other residents remain at risk. Therefore, the CPHO is extending the containment order for both communities, but distinguishing between residents who are recovered from COVID-19 (no longer thought to be contagious) and those who did not have COVID-19, or are not recovered.

  1. Removal and Reductions in self-isolation periods depending on vaccination status

  • Symptom checking has been reduced to days 2 and 6 only. Symptom checks will no longer be required on days 10 and 14.
  • For fully vaccinated travellers that require entry and exit testing (currently a COVID-19 test on day 1 and day 14 after they have entered the Northwest Territories) the exit test day has changed to day 8. These tests are required for some workers and people who are travelling to small NWT communities:
    • Fully vaccinated returning travellers: Day 1 (entry) and Day 8 (exit) tests
      *(In this case an entry test is needed because vaccinated travellers are not required to self-isolate in a hub before travelling to a small community. In cases in which returning travellers need to self-isolate, an entry test is not required because they are undergoing self-isolation, and not in contact with anyone else)
    • Partially vaccinated returning travellers: Day 8 test (no longer required to have day 14 test)
    • Unvaccinated returning travellers: Day 10 tests (no longer required to have day 14 test)
  1. Masking Order

  • An NWT-wide masking order will go into effect at 8 am tomorrow morning.

Rationale

The delta variant is spreading quickly across the NWT. Masking is one of the best ways to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Hundreds of contagious droplets can be generated by just speaking to someone, but nearly all of them are blocked when wearing a mask. When masking is normalized (common practice) in communities, studies show that COVID-19 cases are significantly reduced. Masking is most important in crowded settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.

Further Updates

There will be no amendment of the orders related to leisure travel in the NWT until further notice. This is due to the threshold of 1,000 daily COVID-19 cases nationally (averaged over seven days) not being met, as well as the NWT’s current outbreak and the COVID-19 situation.

The CPHO is still considering amendments to allow for leisure travel, but these are now delayed to:

  • Reduce strain on limited health system resources;
  • Avoid assuming additional risk at a crucial moment in the pandemic response;
  • Relieve potential concerns among communities and residents during a period of heightened stress.

The pandemic is constantly evolving. The NWT must remain flexible and adaptive when new challenges arise. With a growing number of infections in multiple communities, including small communities, the CPHO determines that further relaxation of public health orders introduces too much risk.

We all share a desire to further relax restrictions once it is safe to do so, but the health and safety of our residents must come first. The CPHO hopes that we can get through this difficult period together, and consider changes to the orders later this fall once there is a safe reopening of schools and as many people as possible have been vaccinated.

We will continue to provide further updates on the response as they are available. Please stay safe and support each other as we navigate this challenging time.

Attribution

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

Relevant links

Media Contact

Dawn Ostrem

Manager, COVID Communications

COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat

Department of Health and Social Services

Government of the Northwest Territories

dawn_ostrem@gov.nt.ca