Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, is predicting that the territory will get more cases of Covid-19.
“It is inevitable, but it is not inevitable that these cases evolve into large outbreaks,” she said during a media availability on Aug. 19.
Kandola said the GNWT has been watching what’s happening with Covid-19 in the southern provinces and internationally, and is continuing to closely monitor people coming into the territory from other areas more affected by the pandemic.
“We anticipate there will be travel-related cases as the weeks go on, but if we have a travel-related case that comes in and self-isolates for 14 days, it’s within that 14-day period they develop symptoms, get tested and they’re Covid positive, we would keep that case isolated, do an investigation on contacts, test close contacts and isolate close contacts,” she said.
Kandola noted that Western Canada is now reaching some of the highest rates of active cases since the pandemic began.
“Transit to our territories requires passing through or travelling from areas facing challenges in transmission,” she said. “Many residents are returning from holidays and workers are joining us to serve important roles in our society.”
The NWT’s connections run deep with the rest of Canada, she noted. “In this pandemic, we’re also connected by risk.”
With the anticipation of a possible second wave of Covid-19 in Canada, Kandola added that the NWT must keep its guards up to keep things under control.
The level of travel from the South into the NWT can partly be illustrated by the number of self-isolation plans filed with the territorial government. Those weekly numbers have been steadily increasing since June.
For the week of June 14-20, there were 591 self-isolation plans approved. For the week of Aug. 9-15, there were 1,157 self-isolation plans approved.
People had to decide whether or not they were going to do a staycation in the NWT or go outside the jurisdiction and come back, said Conrad Baetz, the deputy chief public health officer and the lead official for enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions with the GNWT. “And I think there were some residents of the NWT, including the South Slave, that in fact made that decision consciously in a way understanding that when they get back they’re going to self-isolate.”
Baetz also noted that the number of self-isolation plans has increased partly because of teachers returning to the NWT in advance of the school year.
Kandola said the steady increase in the number of self-isolation plans was to be anticipated.
“A lot of that are returning teachers,” she said. “But there are also returning families, and workers still have had to do construction projects while the weather is warm.”