The Northwest Territories on Friday reported three new presumptive positive cases of Covid-19 – two in Yellowknife, related to each other, and a third case in Inuvik.
The Inuvik case is not related to the two in Yellowknife, the territory said. If confirmed, the cases would bring the territory’s number of identified Covid-19 patients to eight and be the first confirmed positives since April.
Five other residents to have contracted the virus all recovered months ago.
In a news release on Friday, the territorial government said the two Yellowknife positive tests came late on Thursday evening. One person travelling back into the territory transmitted the virus to a household member.
“The investigation is under way and further details will be made available later in the day,” deputy chief public health officer Dr Andy Delli-Pizzi said in a statement.
Premier Caroline Cochrane and health minister Julie Green are expected to provide an update shortly after 2pm on Friday. Dr Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer, is on vacation this week.
The Inuvik positive comes from an individual who travelled from Alberta to Inuvik by road, arriving on October 10.
“The individual immediately isolated once they arrived at their final destination in accordance with the travel restrictions and self-isolation protocols,” said Delli-Pizzi, referring to the mandatory two-week self-isolation period for almost anyone entering the NWT.
“They are currently isolating safely at home and doing well,” Delli-Pizzi said of the Inuvik patient.
“The initial assessment is that there were no potential contacts, though the investigation continues. The risk of further transmission is considered to be very low at this time since precautions were taken.
“Public health has determined there are no concerns for exposure along the route which was travelled at this time.”
First positives since April
All three tests are considered presumptive positives, meaning follow-up tests are taking place at an Edmonton laboratory to confirm the cases.
The three come more than half a year after the territory last reported a confirmed case among its residents.
“As with any presumptive positive case, public health is investigating and managing these cases as though they were already confirmed,” said Delli-Pizzi.
“The GNWT will update with new information on the investigation when we have the results for the follow-up tests.”
The immediate impact on the NWT’s broader pandemic restrictions isn’t clear. However, the territory has in the past suggested additional cases of Covid-19 won’t necessarily mean a move back to stricter measures or a form of lockdown.
If medical officials conclude there is minimal likelihood of more transmission from these cases, there may well be no change to the territory’s approach.
The new cases – if confirmed – come in a territory that has largely escaped the virus itself, if not the pandemic’s economic and social impact.
For months, officials like Dr Kandola have warned that more cases were considered inevitable, despite the public health measures in place.
Friday’s news comes as southern Canada battles a significant spike in reports of new cases.