So, we’re on the verge of allowing any Tom, Dick or Harriet to enter the NWT for any reason. If they are vaccinated, they won’t even have to isolate. Say what? Yup. That’s right. Foolishness, as my dad would say. Eschia, as I would say.
A while back I predicted that not having people isolate in hotels would result in an outbreak. And look at what happened. An outbreak that hit every region with over 400 cases in total.
Even without opening up the NWT, we’ve already had two deaths and 413 cases resulting from one person travelling to Fort Good Hope with Covid. One person!
That resulted in two people dying and every community in the Sahtu being overrun with multiple cases. There were 112 in Fort Good Hope, 78 in Colville Lake, Deline 18, Norman Wells 54, and Tulita had 8.
Today that outbreak is still going strong: 110 active cases in the NWT with 73 in Yellowknife alone. Yellowknife is still getting new cases every day, including 19 people who have accessed shelters and 10 healthcare and shelter support workers.
Six people were admitted to Stanton last week and one person died at home, although that has not yet been confirmed.
Frightening isn’t it? Even more frightening is that the GNWT still plans to throw the doors wide open to visitors based on outdated criteria and standards that were set before the Delta variant quickly invaded the NWT, the USA, and the rest of the world.
Our government set three targets to meet in “Emerging Wisely” to open up, and it says that the NWT reached the first target of 75 per cent of adults being fully vaccinated.
A second target has barely been met that at least 66 per cent of adults across Canada must be fully vaccinated.
The third target is that the seven-day Canadian average for new daily Covid-19 cases must be under 1,000. Thank God we did not reach that, and we did not fully open the floodgates.
Meanwhile, Alberta opened up a few months ago and 1,450 cases were reported in that province alone on September 4th and the total number of active cases has climbed to over 15,000.
That’s Alberta, you know … the province that virtually all people who are driving to the NWT have to pass through to bring COVID to us. Yes, Alberta, where there were 17 deaths due to COVID on the long weekend alone.
Meanwhile, after the GNWT released Emerging Wisely, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said a study they did shows that vaccine effectiveness against the Delta Variant dropped from 91% to 66 per cent.
So, the good news is that COVID will likely cause largely minor infections among fully vaccinated people. The bad news is Delta spreads much easier and is more deadly than the original COVID. That’s why our outbreak spread so quickly and caused deaths.
90 per cent needed for herd immunity
Now for the kicker. Chief Public Health Officer Kami Kandola unknowingly supported my point, when she recently said that 90 per cent of the NWT’s total population has to be vaccinated for us to achieve herd immunity against the Delta Variant.
But only 63 per cent of our total population is vaccinated, and Kandola said it’s not possible for the NWT to achieve a 90 per cent vaccination rate until vaccines are approved for children under 12. Well, then why are they so anxious to open up?
We know vaccines will be approved for them sooner or later, so why not wait until the kids are vaccinated?
After all, we’re now dealing with a more deadly disease than when they set the benchmark of 75 per cent of adults being vaccinated. We also know that people who have been fully vaccinated can get COVID.
We know they can pass COVID on to others, like children who cannot yet get vaccinated. And we know kids can and have died from it.
It seems that this is a case where the GNWT is making science/medicine take a back seat to the economy. And it shouldn’t be, although I acknowledge some businesses need tourists.
The next stage of the NWT’s Emerging Wisely reopening plan will allow anyone to enter the territory for any reason and lets fully vaccinated travellers do so without isolating. Totally uncool.
Dr. Donald Vinh is an infectious-diseases specialist and medical microbiologist at the McGill University Health Centre, and he says vaccinated people entering Canada should have to isolate for a week.
Similarly, I think all travellers should have to quarantine for a week upon arriving in the NWT … yes, everybody. Since vaccinated people who are infected are contagious for a shorter time period, isolating for a week should be sufficient.
Be safe out there. Use a mask, stay six feet away from people, and use hand sanitizer or wash your hands often and especially every time you get home.