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Wastewater test in Yellowknife signals COVID-19

testing 1 2 3
testing 1 2 3

There is at least one undetected case of Covid-19 in Yellowknife.

The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) is asking anyone who travelled outside the territory or who has been self-isolating or self-monitoring recently to get tested for Covid-19.

The large number of Covid-19 variants in Alberta means the NWT faces a high risk of importing coronavirus, said chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola. NNSL photo
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola is calling for anyone in Yellowknife who has travelled, self-monitored or self-isolated between April 14 and 17 to get COVID-19 tested as soon as possible. Wastewater results for the capital city have revealed an undetected signal of the virus between those dates.
NNSL file photo

A news release issued late Monday states that wastewater sample results from Yellowknife between April 14 and 17 have signalled an undetected case of Covid-19.

"The OCPHO is confident that this positive signal indicates there is likely at least one undetected case of Covid-19 in Yellowknife," states the release.  

"It is possible that this signal is from one or more individuals who have travelled and who are now appropriately self-isolating or self-monitoring within a 14-day travel entry window or have even left the territory.

"It is also possible that Covid-19 has been transmitted to others."

All cases were detected in the Taiga lab in Yellowknife, which has been testing regularly since March.

"Several samples of Yellowknife’s wastewater collected since April 14 are providing signals that indicate positive cases in the city," states the release.   

"The OCPHO will receive confirmation of these results from the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory (NML) in Winnipeg later this week.

The OCPHO stated that as of Monday night that there is not enough information to state the level of public risk.

"With evidence pointing towards at least one undetected case of Covid-19 in Yellowknife, the OCPHO is asking the public to assist us in containing the situation quickly and prevent ongoing transmission," states the release.  

Characterizing risk

Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola says that there will be a better ability for her office to characterize the risk in Yellowknife and the NWT once diagnostic testing and additional wastewater surveillance analysis is revealed from individuals in the coming days.

"If between April 14 and April 17, you were in Yellowknife at any stage of your self-isolation or self-monitoring period because you entered the NWT from another jurisdiction, you should get tested now even if you don’t have symptoms," she stated.  

"Essential services workers who were not self-isolating because they received an exemption to work and who were in Yellowknife between April 14 and April 17 should also be tested." 

Nunavut travellers

The OCPHO release also states that Nunavut travellers not self-isolating because of receiving an exemption, but who were in Yellowknife between April 14 and 17, should get tested.

"This recommendation to get tested does not apply to high-risk essential service workers without symptoms who were already tested as part of their permission to work (e.g. health care workers)," the release states.

"These workers should continue to follow the routine advice from their employer or permission to work letter."

Continuing self-isolating

People self-isolating because of others in their household have travelled should continue self-isolating and don't need testing unless they develop symptoms, states the release.

If symptoms develop at home, people are recommended to contact the local public health unit to arrange for testing.

Earlier this month the OCPHO reported three variants of concern of the B.1.1.7 strain - the first detection of the highly transmissible version of the virus. According to Alberta Precision Laboratories, those involved two at Diavik Diamond Mine and another incident involving an NWT resident travelling internationally.

For direction on how to get tested and the process around contacting your local health unit, see the full news release at the GNWT Department of Health and Social Services website.