More contagious COVID variant detected in NWT

(Image retrieved from Pixabay)

Two cases of the Omicron BA.2 variant of the COVID-19 virus have been detected in the Northwest Territories, according to public health.

The territory has also confirmed a 21st death related to COVID-19.

The two cases of the new variant are in Yellowknife and the Beaufort Delta region.

In an advisory, Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer, said the new variant is not considered more severe “at this time”, but it is considerable more transmissible than the previous Omicron variant.

With this increased transmissibility, the NWT should expect either a slower decline in cases or an increase in the true number of COVID-19 infections in the coming weeks,” reads the advisory. 

Despite this expected increase in cases, the NWT will still remove all public health orders on April 1.

While there will no longer be orders, public health says outdoor gatherings, masking in crowded public spaces and staying home if sick will continue to be ways to protect communities.

The advisory also notes that vaccines are providing about the same protection against both Omicron variants.

Finally, wastewater testing in Inuvik is indicating higher-than-normal COVID-19 levels.

The latest numbers show more than 300 active COVID-19 cases in the NWT.

Here is the breakdown by region:

  • Yellowknife – 168
  • Beaufort Delta – 68
  • Dehcho – 25
  • Fort Smith – 16
  • Hay River – 15
  • Tłı̨chǫ – 11
  • Sahtú – 8