No indoor visitors allowed in Yellowknife area homes as COVID-19 cases rise

Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.’s chief public health officer, announced revisions to the COVID-19 gathering order for the Yellowknife, and an exposure notice for all of Behchoko, as cases continue to rise.

Territory's active case count stands at 287, an increase of 26 from Tuesday

N.W.T. officials announced strict public health measures on Wednesday to stem the rising number of cases in Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters)

Households in Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ will no longer be allowed visitors indoors as of midnight tonight.

Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer, announced revisions to the COVID-19 gathering order for the communities on Wednesday, as cases continue to rise. 

In a news release Wednesday night, her office reported 172 cases in the three communities, the highest number of cases they have had since the start of the recent outbreak in the area and since the start of the pandemic.

The order will extend until Oct. 12. 

Previously, people in Yellowknife, Dettah and Ndilǫ were allowed gatherings of up to 10 indoors and 25 outdoors. 

Now, households are not allowed any visitors indoors, though there are some exceptions:

  • Single-member households can bubble with one other household;

  • A caregiver can provide care to an individual, such as an elderly person or a person with disabilities;

  • Regularly scheduled childcare arrangements and respite needs;

  • People responding to emergencies and urgent home repairs;

  • and previously-approved family reunification.

In her press release, Kandola said she recognizes the order extends through the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"This will be difficult for some families but northerners are still encouraged to gather safely through virtual means with their loved ones this Thanksgiving season," she said. "Your collective sacrifice is seen, it is appreciated and we will get through this together."

The last time the territory experienced a similar lockdown was in April 2020, shortly after the pandemic began.

Wednesday's amendments to the public health orders also now require everyone in the Northwest Territories to isolate immediately for 10 days as soon as they receive a positive test result.

Exposure notice issued for all of Behchokǫ̀

Kandola also issued an exposure notification on Wednesday for the whole community of Behchoko.

The notice applies to everyone who lives in or who visited the community between September 15th and Wednesday.

Fully vaccinated people who have been in Behchokǫ̀ must monitor for symptoms and immediately isolate and get tested if symptoms develop.

Partially vaccinated and unvaccinated people who were in Behchokǫ̀ must get tested and isolate until they get their results. 

The N.W.T. currently has the highest rate of cases per capita of any province or territory in the country.

In the same release, the OCPHO declared an outbreak at Tłı̨chǫ All Season Road (TSAR) work camp. 

Two individuals tested positive at the work camp. The release said they were isolating and that impacted workers are being monitored for symptoms. It added there's no additional risk to the public.

Cases across the N.W.T.

The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer reported that as of Wednesday, there were 287 confirmed, active cases across the territory, an increase of 26 from Tuesday.

Here's how the number of cases break down in the rest of the N.W.T. outside the Yellowknife area.

Behchokǫ̀ has 91 active cases, an increase of 16 from Tuesday.

There are four active cases in Whatı̀, the same amount as on Monday.

In the South Slave region, there are two new, active cases in Fort Smith. Hay River and K'atl'odeeche First Nation have a total of eight active cases, the same as Tuesday.

In the Sahtu region, there were three active cases in Délı̨nę, the same as yesterday. There are no longer any cases being reported in Fort Good Hope and Norman Wells. 

There remains one active case in Fort Simpson.

Also on Wednesday, Kandola declared an outbreak at the Tłı̨chǫ All Season Road work camp with two confirmed active cases.

At the territory's mines, Diavik Diamond Mine and Ekati Diamond Mine are each reporting two active cases.

Anyone with questions about public health orders is encouraged to call 8-1-1 or email protectNWT.