Dr. Kami Kandola, the NWT chief public health officer, has made it mandatory for anyone with a positive COVID-19 test result to report it to ProtectNWT.
The new requirements target people who have used a rapid antigen test. The take-home tests are given out at airports, schools and through the DetectNWT program.
Anyone with a positive case result from the at-home test will not need to be re-tested, but needs to isolate for 10 days.
A public health advisory says the tests will become more widely available through health centres “as soon as possible.”
“The NWT is preparing for an influx of returning travellers in the coming weeks and therefore it is expected that more COVID-19 positive cases will result due to importation,” reads the advisory.
The advisory also says all incoming COVID cases will be attributed to the Omicron variant.
“The majority of people infected with the Omicron variant will safely recover at home. A small percentage will have severe symptoms from a COVID-19 infection that require medical attention. The chance of severe outcomes is higher if people are unvaccinated, elderly or immunocompromised,” reads the advisory.
Residents that have had a positive at-home test should only contact a health centre if they are experiencing shortness of breath, severe fatigue or weakness, or have a severe sore throat or headache.
High risk individuals; including not fully vaccinated people, immunicompromised, pregnant, younger than five years old or older than 60; should contact their local health centre if they receive a positive at-home test result.
If residents returning from travel are not fully vaccinated, they must isolate for eight days and then get a negative test from a testing centre to leave isolation. A negative at-home test result is not enough to end self-isolation.
School openings delayed
Earlier this week, Kandola recommended schools stay closed for the first week of January.
The district education councils and authorities have agreed to keep schools closed until Jan. 10.
There will be no online or remote learning from Jan 4-7.
The CPHO is recommending anyone returning from travel monitor their symptoms closely for the first three days.
Keeping the schools closed “will allow those who have travelled to stay in their NWT residence for a minimum of 72 hours, follow their Self-Isolation Plans (SIP), as appropriate, and help keep their communities safe from the potential spread of COVID-19.”
The CPHO is also reminding students that have received an at-home test to use it before returning to school in the new year.