An electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Image: NIAID-RML
A case of Covid-19 in Yellowknife with “no known source” has been confirmed, the territorial government said on Friday afternoon.
The person involved has no travel history but sought a test when they developed symptoms, the office of the NWT’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, said in an advisory.
The individual is isolating appropriately and doing well, the territory said.
“A rigorous investigation is ongoing to determine the source of infection. The Covid-19 rapid response team is being deployed,” the advisory stated.
This is the first case reported by the NWT to involve no apparent link to travel. Until now, the territory has avoided what is known as community spread, whereby cases spread from person to person without an obvious source.
The territory now has a total of 25 confirmed Covid-19 cases to date.
Healthcare staff are now “reverse contact-tracing,” which means reviewing the person’s potential exposure to Covid-19 in the 14 days before their symptoms began.
Staff will examine who the person was in contact with over those two weeks, then look to carry out targeted tests of any contacts who may lead them toward a source for the infection.
The territorial government urged people to follow its pandemic health restrictions “now more than ever” until that source is established. The GNWT told returning travellers that with a vaccine being rolled out, residents must “redouble our commitment” to isolation plans.
“Without knowing the source of infection, it is difficult to fully characterize public risk,” said Dr Kandola in a statement.
“What this means is that there is reason for residents and travellers in Yellowknife to remain vigilant. But there is no reason to be frightened – we know what works to stop transmission, and public health is working hard to find the source.
“As we learn more, we will update the public at the earliest opportunity.”
The Town of Fort Smith said via Facebook it would close its recreation facilities and town hall until further notice as a consequence of Yellowknife’s latest case being announced.
The town said it took such action out of “an abundance of caution.” Yellowknife itself had made no such announcement as of 5:30pm on Friday.