N.W.T. officials say investigations into recent COVID-19 cases still underway

Northwest Territories officials says they're still investigating the new COVID-19 cases recently detected in the territory and that it's likely more will be found.

Fort Liard placed on lockdown on Saturday to help prevent a possible COVID-19 outbreak

Premier Caroline Cochrane speaks at a news conference on COVID-19 in the N.W.T. on Tuesday. (Kate Kyle/CBC)

Northwest Territories officials says they're still investigating the new COVID-19 cases recently detected in the territory and that it's likely more will be found.

The update was made during an in-person news conference on Tuesday morning.

Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer, was joined by Premier Caroline Cochrane and Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green at the Legislative Assembly. The briefing is part of the territory's regular updates on the pandemic.

Cochrane said they will also be providing daily updates on the two-week containment order put into effect in Fort Liard Saturday night.

There were three new cases of COVID-19 reported over the weekend in the community, with one reported in the afternoon and determined to be connected to travel outside the territory. By the evening the two other cases, both linked to the first case, were confirmed and the community was placed on a two-week containment lockdown.

On Monday night, the territory said there were two more probable cases in the community being investigated but they have not been confirmed. Those cases are likely linked to travel, Kandola says, and referred to the cases in the community as part of a "cluster."

Fort Liard is now in its third day of lockdown. Kandola says there are still a large number of people who were in contact with the community's first case — the number of people isolating in Fort Liard due to contact with those cases is holding steady at about 50.

"Meaning, there is a much higher likelihood of there being additional cases and onward transmission," Kandola said.

"This investigation is dynamic, and we will continue to keep people fully updated."

She said there are also measures in place to ensure residents in the community get the goods and services needed while in lockdown.

As the vaccination clinic is underway, officials said those in isolation who wish to be vaccinated will be contacted individually to make arrangements.

Missed the update? Watch is here:

Yellowknife case update

Last week, a case of COVID-19 was identified in Yellowknife, and the source of that case has yet to be identified, Kandola said.

"After identifying and testing multiple potential sources we have not identified a source of infection," Kandola said.

"At this stage, there's no clear evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 in Yellowknife. We are not seeing any positive new tests, and our waste water signals in that community remain stable at trace levels, which are anticipated."

Meanwhile, there is a "high probability" that positive waste water signal in the Hay River investigation is connected to the new cluster of cases in Fort Liard, Kandola said. The team in Hay River have performed 189 COVID-19 tests there since Jan. 13, she added.

N.W.T. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola updates the public from the Legislative Assembly on Sunday on the developing COVID-19 situation in the territory while Premier Caroline Cohcrane looks on. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

Isolation hubs

Statistics Canada is providing personalized over-the-phone symptom checks to those self-isolating in the N.W.T. who would rather speak with a person than submit their information electronically, the territory announced Friday.

Premier Cochrane said during the news conference that that may be why people may have received a call from someone in a different area code asking about your symptoms.

Cochrane also said a bid for isolation hub services in December has resulted in 76 standing offer agreements being reached with businesses to provide accommodations, meals, transportation and security.

There's a total of 28 confirmed cases in the territory, according to the government's online COVID-19 tracker, with 24 listed as recovered.

Also on Tuesday, the territory extended its public health emergency until Feb. 2., which gives the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer the ability to create and enforce public health orders. 

It also allows the government to respond to needs for personal protective equipment, isolation space, enforcement and travel checkpoints during the COVID-19 pandemic


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