The Northwest Territories on Tuesday returned to zero active reported cases of Covid-19, alone among Canadian jurisdictions.
Prince Edward Island has one active case as of Tuesday. Together, the rest of Canada is tracking a combined 56,781 active reported cases.
It is both possible that the NWT has unrecorded cases and probable that more will be recorded in future, but Tuesday’s return to zero makes the territory – for the time being – an outlier in North America and much of the world.
Covid-19 cases elsewhere on the continent are spiking.
In provinces and territories bordering the NWT alone, there were 24,164 active cases as of Tuesday – more than half of those in Alberta, which has a direct road link to the NWT and is the source of most goods deliveries.
The territory has restricted much inbound travel for more than half a year to limit exposure, but hundreds of people still enter each week.
Nunavut, which managed to avoid a single reported case of Covid-19 for more than half a year, was dealing with 142 active cases of Tuesday – many in the community of Arviat, where community spread has been documented.
The NWT had a flurry of five cases in late October and another five in the same Fort Smith household this month, but all have now recovered. In total, 15 cases have been reported in the territory to date.
Meanwhile, the territory continues to test residents at rates comparable with the pandemic’s spring first wave.
For example, the NWT posted a record daily high of 120 negative test results as recently as November 16. As of Tuesday, 7,374 tests had been completed and 35 were awaiting results.
With so many cases now being reported in neighbouring jurisdictions, the NWT’s chief public health officer has urged residents not to become complacent and stressed the likelihood of importing new cases is reasonably high.
Residents have been asked to abandon all but the most urgent travel plans, particularly over the holiday season, in a bid to minimize that risk.