COVID-19

Current Recommendations

COVID-19 infections in the Northwest Territories (NWT) are now presumed to be the result of the Omicron variant. The following recommendations have been made by the Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) to slow the spread of COVID-19 which is very contagious. Slowing the spread will reduce pressures on NWT systems and services, such as health, education, and critical infrastructure while helping protect those at high risk for severe outcomes.

Note to all NWT residents, businesses, gathering organizers, clubs and teams: There is no longer any Public Health Orders in place in the NWT. Therefore, the following recommendations are not requirements. Employers and businesses may choose to still have policies in place to enforce certain public health measures, but these are internal policies that are not enforceable by the Public Health Act.

Gatherings and Workplaces

One of the biggest things we’ve learned about COVID-19 is how outbreaks start. Large gatherings where lots of people mingle are a higher risk. The following recommendations help us to understand how making good choices will help protect you and your community, especially those who are at a higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19.

  • Keep groups small and spaces large
  • Consider gathering outdoors
  • Consider increasing ventilation if indoors
  • Provide sanitation stations
  • Follow cleaning protocols
  • Follow distancing protocols
  • Reduce mingling among tables
  • Consider directional signage in naturally congested areas
  • Provide a three-metre distance between performers and audience
  • Determine if masking requirements are appropriate
  • Put in place special times, spaces or considerations for people who are at higher risk of COVID-19 severe outcomes
  • Support employees working from home or staying home if they are sick
  • Encourage employees to stay up-to-date with their vaccinations
  • Follow WSCC requirements and update risk assessment documents and policies to reflect appropriate public health measures for volunteers, employees and clients

Note to all businesses, gathering organizers, clubs and teams: There is no longer a Public Health Order related to gatherings. Therefore, you do not require an application to vary from Public Health Orders.

Healthy Habits

Healthy habits are things you can do every day and may be especially important to implement in high risk settings.

  • Wearing a good, well-fitted mask reduces respiratory droplets from spreading.
  • Keeping a distance between yourself and others will also help.
  • Washing your hands, use soap to wash off stubborn particles that hide in the tiny lines and folds of our skin or under your nails
  • Keep surfaces clean, especially if someone in your house is sick.
  • Stay home when sick until you feel better.
  • Monitor for symptoms.

Stay Home When Sick

Most people who get COVID-19 will not need hospitalization. Most people can recover at home or the residence where they are staying when they become ill. It is important and highly recommended that you stay home when sick and stay in place as the Omicron variant is highly contagious. Therefore, any travel out of a household to another residence or accommodation is likely to increase the chance of the COVID-19 spreading to other community members.

All Travel

While travelling you may become positive or end up sharing accommodations with someone who tests positive and need to isolate due to federal or international requirements while away from home. You should be prepared for this possibility. If you are hosting friends or family from another community in your home, be prepared to support them and monitor yourself for symptoms as household contacts if they choose to stay in your home.  You may want to consider working from home, wearing a mask and reducing your higher risk actives or contacts for the next 10 days to reduce possibility of spread. Please note, while there are no Public Health Orders in place requiring isolation, staying in place and avoiding contact with others still remains an effective way of limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the territory.

Note: Effective April 1, 2022 anyone regardless of vaccine status can enter the NWT. Self-Isolation Plan is no longer required.

Vaccination

We know that immunity wanes over time. Please ensure you are up to date on vaccinations including booster doses that are now available and when the CPHO announces any additional doses approved by the National Advisory Council on Immunization. Please see the NWT immunization schedule to see if you are up-to-date.  This will be updated as new guidance is provided.

Testing

As with many other common viral infections (e.g., the flu), COVID-19 testing is only recommended when the result of a test will inform decisions about treatment or care. If you are generally in good health and are experiencing mild symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to be tested.

You should only get tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are at higher risk for severe outcomes. You should also seek testing if any of the following apply to you:

  • Are at higher risk for severe outcomes
  • Live in a congregate living facility.
  • Work in healthcare or any other vulnerable sector.
  • Live in the same home as a healthcare or vulnerable sector worker.
  • You are experiencing severe symptoms that cannot be managed at home.
  • If you tested positive for COVID-19 more than 90 days ago.

Tests are available in your community:

  • Clinical testing is available at all local health centres for more information go here: https://www.nthssa.ca/en/covid-testing
  • Community access to Rapid Antigen Tests are available.
    If you are symptomatic, please do not access rapid antigen tests through this program. Either have someone else pick up a test for you or contact your local health centre.
  • The Federal Government is currently distributing free rapid antigen tests through North West Company and Arctic Co-op stores in the following locations:
    • Inuvik;
    • Aklavik;
    • Fort McPherson;
    • Paulatuk;
    • Tsiigehtchic;
    • Ulukhaktok;
    • Fort Simpson;
    • Fort Liard;
    • Fort Providence;
    • Norman Wells;
    • Tulita;
    • Délı̨nę,
    • Hay River (including K'atl'odeeche First Nation); 
    • Fort Resolution;
    • Fort Smith;
    • Behchokǫ̀,
    • Sachs Harbour,
    • Lutsel K’e, and
    • Colville Lake.
  • For communities without North West Company stores, the following locations have been identified for free rapid antigen tests:
    • Yellowknife – City Hall and Field House
  • For all other NWT communities, arrangements are in progress to deliver testing kits at this time. Please note that all communities have testing capacity. Anyone who is symptomatic and at a higher risk for developing severe outcomes from COVID-19, or has been advised to get tested for COVID-19 from a health care provider can do so by contacting their local health centre.

Note: Healthcare professionals do not conduct employer mandated COVID-19 testing, pre-travel testing, or provide sick notes or COVID-19 test results for work or school absences.

Masking

Wearing face masks in indoor public spaces is recommended in the NWT. The following federal guidance recommends medical masks and respirators be used in the following situations if possible:

  • Anyone who has tested positive for or has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People caring for someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who live in an overcrowded setting with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19.
  • People who are at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19.
  • People who are at higher risk of exposure to COVID-19 because of their living situation.

For more information please see COVID-19 mask use: Advice for community settings.