N.W.T. chief health officer asks people to self-isolate if showing COVID-19 symptoms post-travel

The Northwest Territories' chief public health officer says no one has tested positive for COVID-19 to date, but residents should take precautions.

No reported cases of novel coronavirus in territory to date, risk is still low

Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer of the N.W.T. says the risk of COVID-19 in the territory remains low but global transmission is 'evolving quickly.' (Kate Kyle/CBC)

The chief public health officer says the territory is testing residents and visitors for COVID-19 if they show flu-like symptoms — including fever, cough or difficulty breathing — and have travelled outside the territory in the past 14 days.

In an update on the novel coronavirus — or COVID-19 — on Tuesday, Dr. Kami Kandola said those individuals will be requested to self-isolate, meaning staying home and not going outside, until results are available. Currently, people who have visited Iran or Hubei province in China in the last 14 days must also self-isolate for two weeks even if they are feeling well, it states in an N.W.T. Health Department news release. 

As of Tuesday, no one in the territory has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to the release.

To date, 24 tests have been performed in the territory, the update says, and while transmission of COVID-19 across the globe is "evolving quickly," the risk in the N.W.T. remains low. 

There are now 79 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in four provinces and one reported death in Canada, according to the update. 

The update notes, however, that community-level transmission of COVID-19 in the territory is also possible as there have been cases in the United States and British Columbia. 

Community transmission is when tracing a case of COVID-19 to a single source outside the community becomes impossible.

Findings from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Report show that of the over 70,000 people with COVID-19 worldwide, 80 per cent reported having a mild illness while 20 per cent required hospitalization. People who became critically sick tended to be adults over the age of 60, or people with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems.

The N.W.T. government says it created a COVID-19 pandemic planning guide, and have also created a checklist for the health system to guide the review of local, regional, and territorial pandemic plans.

Avoid cruise ship travel: Health Department

The Chief Public Health Officer is reminding residents to practice good etiquette when coughing or sneezing, frequently wash their hands or use hand sanitizers, stay home when sick, clean contaminated surfaces and contact their local health unit if they have concerns.

Everyone avoid cruise ship travel, according to the update. And it is recommended that people over the age of 60 or with chronic conditions or weakened immune systems avoid travelling outside of the territory, receiving travellers from affected areas and close contact with people who have flu-like systems. 

The update recommends having a plan in place that includes keeping two weeks of household supplies like food, water and medication.