Coronavirus

No news yet on three NWT presumptive positives, says minister


There is no update on the three presumptive positive tests for Covid-19 announced on Friday, health minister Julie Green told the legislature on Monday.

One person in Inuvik and two in Yellowknife tested positive for Covid-19 last week. An Edmonton laboratory is carrying out second tests to confirm those initial results.

“As soon as those results are known, we will inform everyone via a public health advisory the way we did on Friday with the presumptive cases,” Green said in response to questions from Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn.

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“I can’t speed it up,” said Green. “There are factors beyond our control. We are as anxious as everyone else to hear whether these cases have been validated.”

Green said the territorial government was treating the three as though they were definitive cases of Covid-19 and contact tracing had been taking place.

“If there are additional cases as a result of that, the public will be notified,” said the minister.

One of the two Yellowknife individuals attended the city’s Anytime Fitness gym and visited the RCMP detachment last week, triggering the NWT’s first exposure warning for Covid-19.

The reason the tests have been sent south to Edmonton for confirmation, said Green, is that the territory’s new rapid-testing machines have not yet been validated – thoroughly tested and approved – regarding positive results like those returned last week.

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“Our rapid testing machines are not validated for positive tests, as we have had so few positive tests – in fact, none – since these machines were procured,” said Green.

That means the positive results given by the machines are not considered fully reliable and must be confirmed in Alberta.

Meanwhile, Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby asked Green whether contact tracing protocols had been followed regarding the presumptive positives in Yellowknife.

“I don’t have an answer to the member’s question,” Green replied.

In response, Nokleby said: “I can’t believe the minister doesn’t know if her own protocols were followed in a case such as this.”

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