Challenging weeks ahead as health officials navigate ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Yellowknife

Dr. Kami Kandola addressing the media in the Legislative Assembly on COVID-19. (Mariah Caruso/CKLB)

A new isolation centre and shelter are expected this week.

The Yellowknife Ski Club is set to become the new isolation centre and a temporary shelter at the community arena was also announced in a virtual call with NWT officials on Sept. 14.

Shane Thompson is the minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

He said the territorial government put in a request to the Canadian Red Cross for an additional 20 people to provide support and expects a positive response soon.

The recent transmission of COVID-19 in the territory overwhelmed health services and consequently shut down all schools in Yellowknife, Ndilǫ and Dettah.

Julie Green is the minister of Health and Social Services.

“Despite our best efforts to slow the spread of this virus, case counts are still rising and we have many vulnerable residents, including unvaccinated children under 12 years old, who must be protected,” she says.

In-person learning has been moved online and will be suspended until Sept. 24 to prevent the spread of the virus.

R.J. Simpson is the minister of Education, Culture and Employment and said he understands this situation is not ideal for learning.

He added that it may cause more stress but needs to be done for the overall health and safety of residents.

Many students will make the transition online, others will have paper packages, and some may do both.

In addition, “Due to the sheer number of people with COVID-19, there isn’t capacity for timely investigation and identification of contacts,” says Dr. Kami Kandola, chief public health officer.

She added that more than 70 people that are homeless or that work with the street population are confirmed to have COVID-19, which has dramatically affected public services.

To mitigate the risk a new isolation order for those with COVID-19 was put into effect on Sept 13.

Kim Riles, CEO for NTHSSA acknowledges the overwhelming nature of this outbreak on the health care system.

She says updated service levels for the communities will be updated later today and will be ongoing.

Many services have shifted virtually both at the clinical level and in the hospital, she adds.

The CPHO has extended the Public Health Emergency until Sept 28.

The number of active cases of COVID-19 in the territory is 178 with 118 coming from Yellowknife.

About the Author

Mariah Caruso
Mariah Caruso is a digital journalist, originally from Toronto, Canada. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a Hons. Bachelor of Arts and completed her Journalism post-grad at Sheridan College. She has an insatiable appetite for life, storytelling, connecting to the people, and getting to the heart of the issue. Mariah is excited to begin her journey and career in Yellowknife, NWT, and get involved with the community. If you have a story idea, feel free to send her an email at