Premier issues rallying cry to NWT as residents face up to Covid-19

Last modified: March 23, 2020 at 12:23am

The Premier of the Northwest Territories urged residents to work together and make a difference after the NWT reported its first confirmed case of Covid-19.

Premier Caroline Cochrane said the case, identified late on Friday evening and reported on Saturday morning, was “hard news to share.” It was the first in Canada’s North, joined on Sunday by two confirmed in the Yukon.

The NWT has now closed its borders with limited exceptions, requiring all returning residents to self-isolate for two weeks in one of the territory’s four largest communities.


That move is designed to protect people in smaller, more remote communities, who don’t have immediate access to advanced medical care.

“To the people of the Northwest Territories, I want to say that we knew this day would come and the GNWT has been working hard so that we would be prepared when it did,” Cochrane told the NWT’s 45,000 residents.

“We know there are simple and effective steps we can all take to help slow down and limit the spread of this virus in our communities.

“Slowing the spread will give our medical officials the time they need to keep planning and managing our response so we can help protect residents and communities.”

As of Sunday morning there remained one confirmed case in the NWT, with 370 tests coming back negative. An unknown number of tests are still being analyzed.


Later on Sunday, the NWT’s chief public health officer asked residents to immediately cancel all gatherings of any size, whether indoors or outdoors, formal or informal. No house parties, no visits with friends, no religious services, no bingos.

Many businesses are also being asked to shut down, including tour operators, bars, salons, and gyms.

The aim is to eliminate as many places as possible where the virus might be able to get from person to person.

Curve Flattening

Credit: Toby Morris & Siouxsie Wiles/The Spinoff


Grocery stores and gas stations remain open but are imposing measures to keep people at least two metres apart. Residents are being urged to respect those measures and do everything they can to keep away from each other, giving the virus no chance to spread.

“Slowing the spread will also ensure our healthcare system is not flooded with a large wave of sick people all at once,” said Cochrane.

“This will be crucial to maintaining our capacity to care for and treat the people who do get sick.”