The Northwest Territories announced two further positive tests for Covid-19 late on Thursday evening. For the first time, one was reported in a smaller community.
Case three involves an individual who came back from Europe to Yellowknife on March 20 and voluntarily self-isolated. They developed symptoms five days later and are recovering.
Case four is “connected to travel elsewhere in Canada,” the NWT government said, and is in a small community.
The community was not named. The chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, has consistently said the location of cases in small communities will not be given to preserve patients’ privacy.
The patient in a small community returned to the NWT, and straight to their community, on March 22 – one day after an order had been issued barring people from doing so unless they self-isolated for two weeks in a larger community first.
“They immediately self-isolated in their home and submitted a self-isolation plan,” said a statement issued by the NWT government shortly after 9:30pm on Thursday.
“The manner by which they were able to return to a small community and not a designated isolation centre is being investigated.”
This patient developed symptoms on March 26. They remain in self-isolation and are still sick.
“Public Health is working with the patient on next steps,” read the territorial government’s statement.
“Investigation of contacts is ongoing, but is expected to be minimal. The individual has not had contact with others since returning to the territory.”
The territory has not definitively set out what it considers a small community. However, the chief public health officer’s order restricting travel suggests a small community would be one other than Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith, and Inuvik.
Third case ‘did everything right’
The third case is recovering at home and is not expected to need hospital treatment. The NWT government said there are few contacts to trace in that case, too, as the individual “did everything right by self-isolating immediately and limiting risk to others.”
Dr Kandola was not available late Thursday but is scheduled to appear on CBC North Radio One from 7:15am until 8am on Friday, taking questions from members of the public.
Before Thursday evening, the NWT had reported just two confirmed cases of Covid-19.
One, in Yellowknife, is believed to be on the verge of being declared recovered. To do so, they must test negative for the disease twice in 24 hours.
The second, in Inuvik, was reported earlier this week and had been self-isolating exactly as ordered since their return to the NWT on March 21. They are said to be recovering well.
Earlier this week, Kandola urged residents to follow physical distancing guidelines and stop having parties and funerals, both of which are gatherings that can spread the disease.
She suggested the NWT was considering issuing an order banning gatherings. At the moment, only a recommendation not to gather exists – though Kandola has implored residents, in the strongest terms, to follow that guidance.
An order would be punishable with a fine and jail time if disobeyed.