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Wastewater sampled in Yellowknife signals undetected COVID-19

Wastewater samples analyzed in Yellowknife last week have signaled undetected COVID-19 in the city.

The Office of the CPHO says it's 'confident' the positive signal means at least 1 COVID-19 case is in the city

Wastewater sampled in Yellowknife signaled COVID-19, according to a news release Monday evening. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters)

Anyone in Yellowknife who is in any stage of a self-isolation or self-monitoring period after entering the N.W.T. should get tested for COVID-19, even without symptoms, says the Northwest Territories Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

The request comes as wastewater samples analyzed in Yellowknife last week between April 14-17 signaled undetected COVID-19, according to a news release Monday evening.

The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) says it is "confident" that the positive signal means at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Yellowknife.

"It is possible that this signal is from one or more individuals who have travelled and who are now appropriately self-isolating or self-monitoring within a 14-day travel entry window or have even left the territory," the release reads in part.

"It is also possible that COVID-19 has been transmitted to others."

The release says there is not enough information to confidently assess public risk at this time.

"With evidence pointing toward at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Yellowknife, the OCPHO is asking the public to assist us in containing the situation quickly and prevent ongoing transmission," the release says.

Results from people being tested, along with additional wastewater surveillance analysis expected in the coming days,  will allow the territory to "better characterize the risk to the public in Yellowknife and the N.W.T."

Essential services workers who were not self-isolating because they received an exemption to work and who were in Yellowknife between April 14-17 are asked to be tested along with anyone else who is self-isolating after entering the territory.

The release says Nunavut travellers who were not self-isolating because they received an exemption and who were in Yellowknife between those same dates should also be tested.

Testing recommendations do not apply to high-risk essential service workers without symptoms who were already tested as part of their permission to work, such as health care workers. These workers should continue to follow the routine advice from their employer or permission-to-work letter, the release says.

Anyone self-isolating with household members who had travelled should continue self-isolating.

"They do not need to get tested unless they develop symptoms. If anyone in the home develops any symptoms of COVID-19, they should contact their local public health unit and arrange for testing."

The release says, otherwise, public health guidance in Yellowknife and the N.W.T. remains the same.

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