Despite no active COVID-19 cases, public health orders still weeks away from being lifted

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola (left) and Health and Social Services Minister Diane Thom during a news conference in March. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB).

Territorial Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola says it’s still going to be four to six weeks before she even starts thinking of relaxing the current public health orders.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, CKLB asked Dr. Kandola to explain why residents should still respect the orders despite there being no active cases of COVID-19 in the NWT.

Click below to hear what she had to say.

Prior to the news conference, Dr. Kandola spoke to the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight (essentially all regular MLAs).

She explained residents should expect “a new normal” once the measures are relaxed.

“If normal means having Folk on the Rocks or going to see a movie,” she said, “that’s not going to happen.”

However, she encouraged people to go out on the land.

Health and Social Services Minister Diane Thom said she recognized the restrictions “cannot last forever” but, for now, they will mitigate the effects of a second and third wave of COVID-19 before researchers develop a vaccine.

More testing, stricter border control

Dr. Kandola said health officials have broadened the list of symptoms residents should look for before being tested.

Before, anyone with flu-like symptoms was told to get tested, now you should do so if you also have headaches, aches and pains, a sore throat, runny nose, diarrhea and vomiting.

Dr. Kandola said the goal is to increase monitoring to ensure there is no community spread of the virus.

Her office will also be amending the first public health order on travel restrictions.

Essential workers, truckers, corrections officers and construction workers were all exempt from the order to self-isolate for 14 days when coming into the territory.

Dr. Kandola says the amended order “clarifies that these workers are not free from any restrictions or social distancing behaviour, and requirements to self-isolate.”

She said these workers are still required to self-isolate when off-shift and abide by social distancing measures.

Border officials will also require these workers to submit additional documentation to ensure they are respecting the orders.

Dr. Kandola did not say when this amended order would start.

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.