The NWT’s chief public health officer said residents spreading rumours about Covid-19 were wasting the territory’s precious resources and should stop immediately.
Dr Kami Kandola, speaking to reporters on Sunday, said “far too many public health resources” in the territory had been spent investigating hearsay about possible cases.
“You are hurting our response to this pandemic and putting others in danger,” she warned people.
There remain no confirmed cases in the NWT of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, as of 5pm MT on Sunday, March 15.
As of Friday, 80 people had been tested for the virus.
Kandola said people passing on rumours should know the territory will “update the public immediately” as soon as a genuine case of Covid-19 is confirmed.
At the moment, the NWT’s strategy relies heavily on asking incoming travellers to self-isolate (if returning from outside Canada) or self-monitor (if coming home from within Canada).
Tourists who recently arrived in the territory are being asked to either self-isolate or leave. No school or daycare closures are yet being ordered, although individual schools may close if, for example, teachers head into self-isolation and not enough staff remain available.
Meanwhile, Kandola said NWT residents who enjoy going out on the land should consider doing so, as it was one of the best means of social distancing available.
“This is a great time to go out on the land and enjoy the outdoors,” she said on Sunday.
“If we are going to beat this, we must be kind to each other,” Kandola continued.
“We need to be aware and need to be calm. There is no reason for panic.”