Five cases of Covid-19 have been found in Yellowknife in the past day following reports of the virus in samples of the city’s wastewater.
The NWT’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, had urged a wide range of people who had recently travelled to come forward for testing. On Thursday night, she said five positive diagnoses had subsequently been returned.
All cases were related to travel, including one related to international travel.
The other four are from a single household and are related to domestic travel outside the NWT.
The territorial government said all five had been isolating at the start of the month following that travel and were therefore covered by Wednesday’s advisory asking people matching that description to get tested.
That advisory was triggered when sewage samples from November 30 to December 4 showed more traces of Covid-19 than could be attributed to the one person in the city known to have the virus at the time.
All five patients are isolating appropriately and doing well, the territory said.
“The initial investigation has identified limited contacts related to the four individuals in the first household,” Thursday evening’s advisory read.
“There are only household contacts related to the fifth diagnosis. All were self-isolating as a household.
“The investigation has not identified any exposure risk in public places.”
Public health officials are now reaching out to contacts to provide isolation advice.
“Monitoring of the situation will continue,” the territory said.
Twenty NWT cases to date
The NWT’s total number of cases in the pandemic to date moves to 20, its largest one-day jump.
On Twitter, health minister Julie Green wrote: “It’s a big number compared to what we’ve had in the past but it’s contained.”
The extent to which the virus is contained remains unclear, however.
“Five undetected cases of Covid-19 uncovered in less than 24 hours is an extremely positive development as the territory works to ensure risk of community transmission is contained,” Dr Kandola said in her statement, suggesting efforts at containment were ongoing.
She urged any remaining people who were isolating earlier in the month and meet Wednesday’s criteria to get tested.
Kandola said she could not yet be sure if community spread was occurring in the city. Community spread would mean the virus is moving between residents without easily traced links to travel outside the territory.
“It is more important than ever that anyone with any symptoms at all comes forward for a Covid-19 test,” she said.
“Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms is reminded that you may present to the Yellowknife Primary Care Clinic for a Covid-19 test at any time.
“This is how you can help keep communities safer throughout this period of higher risk. When public health knows about a case of Covid-19, they can investigate, get contacts isolated, and prevent further transmission.”
Most test results are now coming back in less than two days, and they could be even quicker with rapid testing now being rolled out in the city.