Inuvik resident confirmed as second COVID-19 case in NWT

This image is a computer generated representation of COVID-19 virions (SARS-CoV-2) under electron microscope. (Felipe Esquivel Reed/Wikimedia Commons).

NWT Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola has confirmed a second case of COVID-19 in the territory.

The individual travelled to British Columbia earlier this month before flying back to Inuvik on March 21; the individual and other members in their home have been self-isolating since then.

Dr. Kandola said—as with the first case—that passengers on the same flight as the individual will not be informed since the person was not symptomatic on the plane. They only started developing symptoms five days after their return to Inuvik, said Dr. Kandola.

Dr. Sarah Cook is the territorial medical director. She said the majority of COVID-19 cases were passed on by someone who was symptomatic. She added that there’s not yet enough evidence to say how contagious non-symptomatic people are in transmitting the virus.

With the confirmation of a second case, Dr. Kandola said Health and Social Services Minister Diane Thom extended the public health emergency for another two weeks.

The second case comes as the first person to have a confirmed case of COVID-19 nears the end of their 14-day isolation period. Dr. Kandola said none of the 17 people with whom this person had contact have tested positive.

Continuing ‘aggressive’ testing

A news release on the second case points to the NWT’s “aggressive testing strategy”.

It adds, “The Chief Public Health Officer indicates this is the territory’s strongest weapon in tracking and containing the virus.”

So far, 1,109 tests have been done; most of those—about 700—have been from Yellowknife residents.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Cook said it takes an average of four days for people to get their test results. However, that can change daily due to the backlog at the testing lab in Alberta. She also said that all communities have the ability to test residents.

Dr. Kandola was asked if she was willing to ease her orders (like the travel restrictions and physical distance guidelines) if no other cases come up in the next couple of weeks.

Suffice to say NWT residents should expect to hunker down for a while longer.

Dr. Kandola said she’d consider lifting the restrictions only once the number of cases in the rest of Canada start to plateau.

“That time is not now,” she added. “That time is definitely not in the next four weeks.”

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis was a reporter with CKLB from January 2019 to March 2023. In his time with CKLB, he had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures.