Town and MLA rally Inuvik residents after Covid-19 case

Lesa Semmler
Lesa Semmler, the MLA for Inuvik Twin Lakes, at the NWT legislature in October 2019. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

As the NWT government confirmed a positive test for Covid-19 in Inuvik, town leaders urged residents to keep following recommendations and slow the spread of the virus.

The territory’s second case was announced on Wednesday, The patient returned to Inuvik from British Columbia on March 21 and began experiencing symptoms five days later.

Dr Kami Kandola, the NWT’s chief public health officer, praised the patient and their household for self-isolating exactly as requested for the 10 days between their return to Inuvik and their positive test.

On Thursday morning, Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler told her constituents they were collectively getting their response to Covid-19 right, and must continue.



“Inuvik, you have been doing an amazing job of social distancing,” said Semmler in a Facebook message to the community.

“There has been so much support for each other in our community. I have heard there are still gaps – we continue to work every day with the concerns brought forward.

“People react differently when they are afraid but, as long as we continue to follow the recommendations of the chief public health officer, we will flatten the curve.”

So far, neither of the NWT’s two cases have required hospitalization. The first case, in Yellowknife, is in the process of being tested to assess whether they have fully recovered. The Inuvik patient is said to be “doing well” with mild symptoms.



Diane Thom, Inuvik’s other MLA, is the health minister. It was Thom’s decision last month to declare a public health emergency in the territory, setting up the chief public health officer’s ability to make self-isolation mandatory for returning residents.

That public health emergency was extended for a further two weeks on Wednesday.

‘Be patient and diligent’

In a statement late on Wednesday, the Town of Inuvik said it “understands that residents may be concerned with the recent announcement, but we would like to reiterate that the individual followed all self-isolation protocols.”

The Town outlined the range of measures it has in place for travellers returning to the NWT via Inuvik. Anyone reentering the territory at Inuvik, whether by air or the Dempster Highway, is legally obliged to self-isolate in the community – either at home if they live there or at the Mackenzie Hotel if they live elsewhere.

“We, like you are concerned for our families and community,” read the Town’s statement.

“We also believe that the best thing for each of us to do is follow the recommendations put in place and continue to be patient and diligent.

“Keep safe. Stay home. Take care of one another.”