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Délı̨nę mother, newborn with COVID-19 forced to isolate at gov't-run home lacking basic amenities

The territorial government is requiring a mother and her newborn from Délı̨nę who have COVID-19 to isolate in a home in Yellowknife that lacks basic amenities.

The mother was told the Explorer and Chateau Nova aren't accepting guests who test positive to virus

A mother said the government is forcing her and her newborn to isolate in this three-bedroom Yellowknife house after they were medevaced to Yellowknife because they had COVID-19. The mother said the house does not have internet or a phone connection. (Luke Carroll/CBC)

A Délı̨nę mother and her newborn who were medevaced to Yellowknife after contracting COVID-19 are now isolating in an N.W.T. government-run home that lacks basic services.

The woman arrived at her current isolation house to discover cigarette ashes on a plate, dirty sheets on the bed, no shower curtain or toilet paper, no internet and no telephone.

"There are zero amenities in the house where I feel I am being forced to isolate alone with a newborn," the woman said in an email. 

The woman requested anonymity, which CBC News granted to respect medical privacy. 

The woman said she and her newborn baby tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 6. Both developed a fever and were medevaced to Yellowknife to ensure the baby was not in a serious condition. 

The woman and her newborn were released from the hospital the following day, but were required to isolate in Yellowknife until Jan. 16.

Limited options

The Explorer Hotel and the Chateau Nova have been used as isolation centres since the start of the pandemic. However, the only options given to the woman and newborn were the Northern Lites motel, a low-cost downtown motel with a reputation for rowdiness, the Aspen Apartments, where the N.W.T. government had previously prepared to house people with COVID-19 who had nowhere else to go, and a three-person house, which she could potentially have to share with strangers. She chose the house.

The woman's sister has been trying to help her with her isolation.

The sister said she asked the territorial government if she could pay for the woman to isolate at the Explorer or Chateau Nova, but was told that could not be arranged because those places can't take in people with COVID-19. 

The woman said in an email to CBC News she doesn't think this makes sense. 

"Since they are both centres for isolation, you can bet there are probably several positive cases staying there," she wrote. 

She added it's unfair the two hotels allow people arriving from the South to isolate, but aren't taking in someone from an N.W.T. community who is in need.

Sister reached out to territorial government 

The sister said she reached out to the territorial government about moving the woman to either the Northern Lites Motel or the Aspen after she discovered the state of the house. But she said she was informed the Northern Lites was full and all that is available at the Aspen are cots. 

The sister said that as of Tuesday, there is still no phone or internet set up at the house and no one has come to clean it. 

The sister said she and her other siblings have dropped off cleaning supplies and food for the woman and newborn as the territorial government has not done so, other than a breakfast left at the door that froze. 

The sister said she's worried for her sister, but also wonders what would happen to someone from a community who doesn't have family in Yellowknife. 

"I'm hoping they can have the phones set up, people coming in from the communities often don't have cell phones or they don't have family members in the community that they can depend on," she said. 

"Luckily my sister has us, but if she did not, it would be a really bad situation." 

CBC News requested an interview with Premier Caroline Cochrane, who is responsible for the COVID-19 Secretariat. But Trista Haugland, the N.W.T. cabinet press secretary, referred the request to the operational side of COVID-19 Secretariat. 

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