The chief public health officer (CPHO) is empowered to name locations and businesses when public health is at risk, a spokesperson said Friday.
Anytime Fitness was identified by the GNWT on Friday as a location where a person who tested presumptive positive for Covid-19 was present between 3 and 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12. That individual was among three possible cases reported on Friday, with another in Yellowknife and one in Inuvik.
Under section 7 of the NWT Public Health Act, the CPHO “may take such reasonable measures as he or she considers necessary in the circumstances to protect the public health, including but not limited to the issuance of public health advisories and bulletins and the posting of signs giving notice of health hazards.”
Mike Westwick, CPHO spokesperson, said the office informed Anytime Fitness about the exposure risk.
Requests for comment from Anytime Fitness were not immediately returned.
The individual was also in the Yellowknife RCMP detachment’s waiting area between 11 and 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 13.
An individual posting as YK Sweets said on Facebook Friday evening that their roommate had been at Anytime on Monday during the 90-minute period and had gone for a Covid test out of precaution despite having no symptoms.
As a result, a fundraiser they were going to hold for the NWT SPCA has been postponed until further notice.
“We will be self-isolating for the next 14 days. I will keep you all updated regarding new pick up times.”
In a post on YK Sweets’ own page, the individual said an update would be given after test results are known within 24 hours. The individual confirmed to NNSL Media plans to self-isolate for 14 days.
In a third post on Sunday, YK Sweets said results came back negative but both people would still self-isolate for 14 days.
In a release on Friday, the NT RCMP advises that if anyone was in the detachment front entrance at that time to contact ProtectNWT for direction.
The RCMP said its services are ongoing across the NWT despite the detachment’s possible exposure to Covid and it has engaged with Public Health and the Department of Justice on possible contact tracing.
“We want to assure the people of the NWT that public safety remains our focus,” said Supt. Jeff Christie, NT RCMP Criminal Operations Officer. “As the police of jurisdiction in the NWT, we will continue to provide policing services and will maintain operations at our RCMP detachments.”
In their continuing response to the pandemic, police use additional Covid-19 pre-screening questions in their Operational Communications Centre to better prepare for a virus-related response.
The RCMP has also reduced its counter services and service hours, with the front counter services at the Yellowknife Detachment accessible by a double-door system. An inside door stays locked until someone is admitted inside.
Staff limit the number of people permitted into the entrance area. Preventive measures are in use like masking and hand sanitizer. A Plexiglass window separates the public from the front-counter staff, and the front-counter staff office is separated by a door from the operating detachment area.
Anyone who was in Anytime Fitness or the RCMP detachment during the designated times must self-isolate for 14 days, the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer said.
Unlike two Covid infections confirmed at the Diavik Diamond Mine over the summer, Anytime Fitness and the RCMP detachment are frequented by members of the public.
Of the two cases in Yellowknife, one of the individuals travelled outside the territory and self-isolated upon return but is believed to have infected a housemate. That individual visited the gym and RCMP detachment.
The cases are considered presumptive because not enough positive tests have been completed on the analyzers to be able to yet declare a case confirmed. Follow-up tests with the partnering public health laboratory in Edmonton are required for confirmation purposes, according to deputy chief public health officer Andy Delli-Pizzi. The public would be updated when the results come back, which is expected to happen Saturday, Delli-Pizzi said during a press conference at the legislature Friday afternoon.
While there are a number of extra precautions being made with these presumptive cases, Delli-Pizzi said people should not worry about an outbreak and about any changes to the government’s current approach to COVID-19.
“This situation is manageable. There’s no need to alter our overarching approach at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and update if there are changes,” said Delli-Pizzi.
Premier Caroline Cochrane added that Canada is in the midst of a second wave and it was inevitable cases have made their way up north, then stressing the need for the residents and communities to continue being careful and conscientious “more than ever.”
“It’s critical for residents and communities to remain as diligent as possible more than ever before, the (GNWT) is committed to protecting everyone,” Cochrane said.
Delli-Pizzi added that testing capabilities have greatly improved during the past number of weeks, and they hope to increase the capacity of health authorities in the future.
Friday’s three presumptive cases come six months after the NWT’s five confirmed cases had recovered.
–with files from Trevor Wright