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Covid-19 outbreak in Fort Liard stabilized, says Kandola

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The status of the small community cluster of Covid-19 in Fort Liard has remained stable since Friday and there have been no more diagnoses over the last week, according to NWT chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola.

"And that's thanks to the aggressive contact tracing and testing by the rapid response team," she said during a virtual press conference. "Since the cluster was first discovered, we are cautiously optimistic that the swift early local health response will succeed in keeping the Covid-19 risk at bay and we have the entire community to thank for that."

The initial case of Covid-19 announced on Jan. 16 eventually spread to include six people in less than one week.

Territorial medical director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg echoed Kandola's praise of the Fort Liard community for its cooperation in contact tracing, isolation and with the vaccine clinic.

However, she said health authorities continue to closely monitor the situation in the Dehcho community.

The lockdown order that Kandola announced for Fort Liard on Jan. 16 will expire on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m.

Kandola said she's optimistic the order won't be extended due to the containment efforts and no more coronavirus cases having been found over the last week.

Isolation measures questioned

In response to an inquiry as to whether the initial Covid-19 case in Fort Liard occurred because someone "breached" their self-isolation, and if isolation procedures would become stricter as a result, Kandola said she can't comment on specific cases.

"I want to clarify that the 14 days of self-isolation was adhered to. That’s all I can say."

Kandola previously told reporters on Jan. 19 that health authorities believed the first case in Fort Liard was in an individual who began showing symptoms while in isolation in Hay River. After the isolation period was finished, the person sought testing, which led to a confirmed result for Covid-19.

She further explained on Wednesday that the NWT has several layers of protection against Covid-19, including travel restrictions, mandatory self-isolation, wastewater surveillance, rapid testing and vaccines.

"One scenario that I have introduced is the availability of testing on day 12 for anyone who's finished their isolation and going back into the community (to) offer them testing before they leave. But it's not mandatory. But this is a another layer of protection I've put in place. I think the NWT has been really fortunate that these many layers of protection has not led to community transmission."