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Another COVID-19 case linked to Yellowknife cluster


A sixth Yellowknifer has COVID-19.

Public health officials announced one additional case in the capital Sunday. There are now eight active cases in the NWT, including two in Fort Smith, according to the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

There are now eight active cases of COVID-19 in the NWT, with six in Yellowknife and two in Fort Smith.
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The individual is a contact of a previously reported case and is self-isolating.

"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," chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola said in a news release April 25.

"A cluster refers to cases that are clustered in time, geographic location or by common exposure."

After the most recent person was diagnosed, all contacts were notified and there is no identified public exposure.

"OCPHO will advise the public if the situation changes."

Canadian North Flight 239

The OCPHO also provided an update on a post by Canadian North regarding its Flight 239 where there were reports of two individuals travelling this week through Nunavut and to Yellowknife. Dr. Kandola said the case announced Sunday is not connected to this incident.

On April 24, Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq tweeted a notice about all individuals travelling from Iqaluit must isolate for 14 days upon arrival to their community. This was in response to public exposure to COVID-19 on Canadian North Flight 239, April 23.

The flight had seven passengers that arrived in the NWT capital.

"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," Kandola said.

"The flight then continued to Yellowknife before departing to its final destination of Edmonton."

All individuals have been contacted by public health and the seven NWT residents are 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," states the release.

"There is no risk to the public identified at this time."

Transport Canada and federal jurisdiction

The OCPHO also stated that as COVID-19 transmissions are increasing, 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.

Among those measures include "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," Kandola said.

"All passengers travelling on flights originating from outside the Northwest Territories will go through screening upon arrival."

She said those measures would "adequately manage" the risk of further transmission of COVID-19.

Dr. Kandola recommended that NWT residents continue practising healthy habits, including restricting gatherings sizes.

"Non-essential travel outside the territory is still not recommended at this time," she added.

"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."

The transmission moves quickly, she added and noted that COVID-19 does not differentiate between traditional, religious, or family get-together type crowds.

"It can happen any time there are a lot of people close together."