Three new COVID-19 cases were reported in Yellowknife Friday night, according to a news release issued by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO).
According to the release all three were NWT residents and are currently self-isolating and doing well.
“The first two individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 23 are within the same household and linked to domestic travel.” states the release.
“Yellowknife Public Health is conducting an ongoing investigation on the two individuals linked to domestic travel. Public health identifies seven contacts and the individuals are isolated and supported.”
The release also states that there have been no public exposures.
Chief public health officer Dr. Kami Kandola stated that the third individual acquired the infection through international travel but there have been no contacts and no public exposures identified. The individual is self-isolating.
Friday’s development follows a week of new COVID reports in the NWT capital that included a Yellowknife case reported on April 21 followed by another case on April 22.
Kandola explained that the territory sends a sample of the virus detected from all who have been diagnosed to the Alberta Precision Laboratories for any variants of concern (VOC).
École St. Patrick High School connection
Earlier in the day on Friday, NNSL Media reported that the person who was confirmed with COVID on April 22 may have attended a party with students from at least one school.
Kandola said on Friday night that the Yellowknife Public Health Unit and her office discovered that a person with COVID-19 attended St. Patrick High School on April 19.
About 40 people have been identified as contacts.
“The local public health unit provided letters to contacts and their families, and is reaching out to provide further advice.” Kandola stated.
“School administrators also provided a general letter to the entire staff and student body.”
No transmission at school
The news release states that as of Friday night, there has been no documented transmission at the high school, so there is no declared outbreak.
“The OCPHO has not identified any further risk outside of these identified contacts at the school and continues to monitor the situation,” she stated. “It will notify the public if the situation changes.”
Those who have been contacted by public health are recommended to self-isolate for 14 days and self-monitor for symptoms.
“Any person who is a contact to a person with COVID-19 should promptly notify Yellowknife Public Health if they develop any symptoms,” Kandola stated.
People affected are asked to follow Yellowknife Public Health guidance for testing and that all contacts – even those without symptoms – have tests during their two-week isolation.
“Household members of a contact, if unable to safely isolate in a separate residence or suite from the contact, should follow the same recommendations as the contact,” Kandola stated.
“This means that household members of contacts who have not been isolating separately should self isolate until risk assessments can be completed by public health.”
Households and vaccinations
The news release states that fully vaccinated households will have significant protection but are not 100 per cent guaranteed protection if COVID-19 develops among a contact.
“Even 90 per cent protection leaves some risk and this is why we are asking vaccinated household members of contacts to continue to self isolate,” states the release.
People can call the 811 line if they have further questions about COVID-19 and the incident involving the high school.
Staff, students or members of the public feeling they may have been a contact, can call the Yellowknife Public Health Unit at 767-9120.
People are not to show up for testing if they have not been advised to do so.
Sand pits and risk of exposure
The OCPHO has identified the sand pits as an area for risk exposure, noting that on April 16, between 9:30 p.m. and midnight and April 17 from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., there was a bonfire and gathering held.
“Everyone who was in this location at these times must self-isolate immediately for the 14 days after their exposure and contact the Yellowknife Public Health Unit at 867-767-9120 and advise you are a contact of COVID-19 to get additional advice,” stated Kandola.
“Those you live with must also self-isolate for the same duration if you cannot safely self-isolate at home away from them.”
Anyone self-isolating must monitor themselves for symptoms closely over the two weeks.
People are asked to contact the Yellowknife Public Health Unit for assessment if they experience fever, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, sore throat, runny nose, headache, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of sense of smell or taste or loss of appetite.
“If you are experiencing shortness of breath at-rest, call 9-1-1 – and let them know you may have had an exposure to COVID-19,” states the release.
Read the full news release here.