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Mysterious Yellowknife Covid-19 case causes closures elsewhere in NWT

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At least two NWT communities are reacting to the new Covid-19 case in Yellowknife with closures and travel limits.

Fort Smith and Lutsel K'e are taking extra safety precautions because the new case, announced Friday, has no known origin.

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Fort Smith closed its recreational facilities and Town Hall on Friday out of "an abundance of caution related to this new Covid-19 case," said a letter posted to Facebook and attributed to Mayor Lynn Napier and the Fort Smith Town Council.

The day care centre will remain open and the town will re-assess the situation on Monday.

"In the meantime the town encourages residents to take advantage of the warm weather to pursue outdoor recreational activities this weekend," the letter said.

Fort Smith has had six cases of Covid, all of which have recovered. The South Slave town's most recent confirmed case was on Dec. 17, 2020.

Lutsel K'e introduced its own measures following the new case in Yellowknife, according to a Facebook post Friday from the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation.

  • Residents returning from Yellowknife wear masks and practice social distancing for 14 days
  • Travel in and out of the community is restricted to essential travel only
  • Non-community members are not to travel into Lutsel K'e, unless they are providing essential services
  • All essential workers are to register with the Band Office and request permission before entering the community
  • Masks are required in all public buildings where physical distancing isn't possible
  • A Covid response worker will be hired to monitor travellers at the airport and assist with delivery of groceries and other errands to allow members to stay at home

The measures will be re-assessed once more is known about the spread of coronavirus in Yellowknife, the notice said.

The case in Yellowknife on Friday was locally acquired, with no known link to travel, said chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola. Rigorous contact tracing is underway that will cover the last 14 days.

That case brings to 26 the total number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the NWT, as the territory's vaccination campaign with the Moderna vaccine has reached more than 20 communities.

As of Monday, at least 512 residents have received their first doses of the vaccine, according to the GNWT's Covid-19 dashboard.