A file photo of Stanton Territorial Hospital taken in April 2019. James O'Connor/Cabin Radio
The territory’s chief public health officer says the fourth person to test positive for Covid-19 in the NWT has now been hospitalized.
Speaking on CBC North’s Trailbreaker radio show, Dr Kami Kandola said the individual was no longer in their small NWT community and is receiving treatment at Stanton Territorial Hospital.
“The latest information I have received is that the person is stable,” said Dr Kandola.
“The vast majority of people … have mild, flu-like symptoms and typically recover at home, but there are a minority of people that are high-risk – our Elders, people over 60, people with pre-existing conditions.
“This particular one had a pre-existing condition. The others were healthy and able to recover at home.”
The territory’s three other patients with Covid-19 to date are described as recovering well at home with mild symptoms.
On Thursday evening, the territorial government said the fourth case was a person from a small NWT community. That community is not being identified.
“There’s a fine balance between the protection of people’s privacy and the public safety of residents,” said Premier Caroline Cochrane, speaking during the same broadcast.
“We’ve determined there is no risk to the community, so there is no purpose to identifying it.”
Cochrane said she had received many calls and emails overnight from people asking for the community to be made public, expressing concern about family members.
“My recommendation to everyone is to follow the chief public health officer’s advice and orders,” she said. “Keep your distance, two metres away. Wash your hands frequently. No social gatherings or large crowds. All of us need to do this.
“Almost 250,000 people in the US are affected, 11,000 in Canada. It’s here. It’s time for all of us to take this seriously.”
Cochrane said she was “disheartened” by the increase this week to four cases, but said those affected had taken “responsible action” by self-isolating properly.
‘If it takes us being aggressive, we will’
Dr Kandola said the fourth patient’s only interaction with anyone since returning to their community was to get a Covid-19 test done.
She praised the affected people for their adherence to self-isolation on returning to the NWT, and said her order restricting travel was so far working.
“The last three cases all submitted self-isolation plans and were compliant. This is working in our favour. There was minimal exposure to the public,” she told the CBC.
“We anticipated there would be a large amount of travellers coming back internationally. On that first weekend alone [March 21 and 22, when the order was introduced], we had more than 1,000 travellers come back. The self-isolation period from then would be ending this weekend.”
Kandola said the number of people entering the territory each day has dropped from between 500 and 1,000 daily to “about a 50 a day” now.
Premier Cochrane said her government was “looking at our enforcement right across all departments” amid reports caribou hunting restrictions are not being adequately monitored and the Highway 7 closure near BC is being only intermittently enforced.
“We need people to enforce our orders at the border, enforce our caribou hunting [ban], enforce socialization,” said Cochrane, referring to the prospect of advice to cancel all gatherings being turned into an order. That has not yet happened, though Kandola has said she is considering it.
Making that advice an order would allow the NWT to fine people and imprison them if they disobeyed.
“People need to realize how serious this is. If it takes us being hard and being aggressive and providing people with fines, we will do that. We need to keep control of what’s going on,” said Cochrane.