Łutselk’e Dene First Nation (LKDFN) and Deh Gáh Got’îê First Nation are taking extra precautions as a result of the COVID-19 cluster in Yellowknife.
According to the CBC, LKDFN has instructed members not to travel to Yellowknife and non-members aren’t allowed to enter the community until further notice. Any members returning home must self-isolate for eight days.
Chief Darryl Marlowe told the CBC it’s a precautionary measure and the restrictions will be in place until the council is sure the situation in Yellowknife is under control.
The community’s only school, Lutsel K’e Dene School, will shut down for two weeks, confirmed principal Vivian Harris by email. The scheduled reopen date is May 7.
Harris says the band council made the request to close the school and the District Education Authority — who has the ability to close it — fully backed the decision.
However, Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT chief public health officer (CPHO), says she is not advising any facilities to close.
“We are requesting that if communities are anxious or have concerns, is to talk to us and we would say why we wouldn’t recommend certain measures and what our guidance is,” she said in a press conference on Monday.
Dr. Kandola says implementing restrictions without consulting the CPHO can cause unnecessary disruption when there is a very low risk.
Deh Gáh Got’îê First Nation Chief Joachim Bonnetrouge addressed members Friday on the community radio broadcast, informing them of new health advisories.
He told CKLB that his council is requesting anyone returning home to Fort Providence from Yellowknife to self-isolate for three days. Non-essential travel to Yellowknife is also discouraged.
Chief Bonnetrouge said information check stops were in place at the entrance to the community from April 23 to 25.
Other Indigenous governments say they aren’t issuing travel bans but are monitoring the situation closely.
Behchokǫ̀ Chief Clifford Daniels says staff are looking into possibly implementing information stops at the community entrance.
“We’re next to Yellowknife obviously, so we are concerned, we just hope it doesn’t spread,” he says.
The Yellowknives Dene First Nation posted on Facebook that offices would be closed until further notice.
“No YKDFN staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. All measures are precautionary,” the notice reads.
While K’atl’odeeche First Nation Chief April Martel says there are strict sanitation and mask protocols throughout the community that will continue to be enforced, but no facilities will be closing at this time.