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1st confirmed COVID-19 case announced in Fort Liard, N.W.T.

The positive case is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fort Liard, a hamlet nearly 545 kilometres southwest of Yellowknife. It is related to travel outside the territory, said Dr. Kami Kandola in a news release Saturday.

Public health has isolated known contacts, rapid response team is going to community

The Northwest Territories' chief public health officer announces Fort Liard's first confirmed case of COVID-19. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

A Fort Liard, N.W.T., resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the Northwest Territories' chief public health officer announced Saturday.

The positive case is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Fort Liard, a hamlet nearly 545 kilometres southwest of Yellowknife. It is related to travel outside the territory, said Dr. Kami Kandola in a news release Saturday, adding that the person is currently isolating and doing well.

Known close contacts are self-isolating and a rapid response team is going to the community to assist further, said Kandola. The team will work to gather more information about potential risks to public health.

The investigation is in its early stages, but there is "some likelihood" of additional COVID-19 cases, said Kandola — though, there are currently no public exposure notices.

For the time being, people in Fort Liard should avoid gatherings of any size with people outside their household, said Kandola.

Public health officials may issue more local recommendations when they get more information about the situation in Fort Liard, says the news release. 

Kandola reminds everyone to self-isolate when required, practice physical distancing, stay home when feeling unwell, and for residents to call their local health centre to arrange a test at the first sign of symptoms.

Acho Dene Koe First Nation offers support

In a statement on Saturday, Acho Dene Koe First Nation said it had told Fort Liard Mayor Hillary Deneron that the First Nation is ready to provide the hamlet with personnel and financial support if need be. 

"At the beginning [of] the pandemic the band provided the municipality with $20,000 to help the hamlet if such a case or cases were to arise and the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) was to be activated," reads the statement.

"The First Nation remains committed to [supporting] its members and the municipality."

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Sean Whelly, mayor of Fort Simpson, N.W.T., about 285 kilometres northeast of Fort Liard, urged residents to be "cautious but not panicked."

He advised people in Fort Simpson to wear masks in public places, and said anyone who was recently in contact with someone from Fort Liard should be "extra cautious."

In an earlier Facebook post, he said masks are now available at the Northern Store and Unity Store.

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