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Coronavirus

Changes to NWT isolation centre policy coming on Tuesday

Last modified: November 30, 2020 at 12:29pm


The NWT government will on Tuesday afternoon announce changes to the way its pandemic isolation centres work.

At the moment, four centres – in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, and Fort Smith – provide places for people to complete mandatory two-week isolation periods if they can’t do so at home.

Residents’ stays at the isolation centres are ordinarily paid for by the territorial government.

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In recent weeks, there has been much discussion between the GNWT and the territory’s communities about changing isolation policies.

For example, some smaller communities would like more of their residents to be able to isolate at home in those communities. (At the moment, residents of most NWT communities must isolate in one of the four centres before travelling on.)

The GNWT has also expressed concern at the size of the bill for its isolation centres.

The territory’s figures suggest a person isolating at a GNWT-run centre costs the GNWT approximately $4,000 for the 14-day period – accounting for 54 percent of the NWT’s spending to date on its public health response to Covid-19.

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“Premier Caroline Cochrane will be holding a media availability to announce changes to isolation centre policies in the Northwest Territories,” the territorial government said in a short advisory on Monday.

That briefing will begin at 1:30pm on Tuesday (the territory initially gave a time of 11am, then updated it). Cochrane will be joined by health minister Julie Green and the territory’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola.

The precise changes to be announced on Tuesday are not yet clear.

Scheduling a briefing marks a swift acceleration in the NWT government’s timetable for adjusting its isolation policies.

Just last week, when a report on isolation feedback from communities was released, a spokesperson for Kandola’s office said there was no timeline for any change to be implemented.

“I think the key point of this is that we are listening to any and all feedback,” that spokesperson said, “and taking them all into consideration as those discussions happen and we look toward new solutions for self-isolation for residents.”

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