Public health advisory issued over severe virus season

Last modified: October 26, 2022 at 8:48am


Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, has issued a public health advisory because there is potential for a severe respiratory virus and flu season this winter.

An NWT lab confirmed the first influenza case of the season was on October 21st – the last case was in April of this year. The territory has also seen young children testing positive for respiratory illnesses such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

In a press release, Dr Kandola shared that her office is seeing a rise in cases of severe respiratory illness and hospitalizations in children under five years old. The advisory states infants are at highest risk of severe illness and death from RSV, especially infants born prematurely or suffering from chronic lung diseases.

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Kandola’s office is monitoring the progression of both Covid and respiratory diseases in the NWT through wastewater and blood samples and posting the findings online every week.

So far numbers for RSV and influenza remain low as compared to this spring:

Data showing Covid, flu/Influenza and respiratory virus numbers by viral copies per mL from the past 8 months. Screenshot from the GNWT’s Wastewater Monitoring Report.

While the advisory is more of a precautionary measure, this time of year it’s good practice to get your flu and Covid vaccinations, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands, stay home when symptomatic, and wear a mask when in doubt.

On September 28, Kandola announced that between April and August of this year, there have been 43 severe Covid outcomes in the territory: 35 hospitalizations, 4 intensive care unit admissions, and 4 deaths.

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Starting October 25th, anyone over the age of 18 who hasn’t had a Covid vaccine in the last six months will be eligible for a Moderna booster. Pfizer boosters are expected in the NWT later in November, and will be open to anyone 12 and older who is due for a booster.

People will be required to wait until it’s been three months from your last Covid infection to get the booster.

Seasonal flu vaccines are also available free of charge at all public health centres in the NWT.

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