Gatherings are banned for two weeks in Fort Liard and businesses must close under the strictest measures yet issued by the NWT government to combat Covid-19.
In an advisory late on Saturday evening, the territory said two new cases had been identified in Fort Liard. Dr Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer, issued a “verbal containment order” that effectively shuts down many hamlet activities for 14 days.
Non-essential travel into and out of Fort Liard is “strongly discouraged” but not formally prohibited.
The move follows confirmation of one Covid-19 case in the hamlet and an expectation from public health officials that more positive tests are on the way.
The verbal order does the following:
- Bans gatherings of any kind at a private home – indoors or outdoors – except caregivers and childcare
- Shuts down all non-essential businesses and facilities, including the hamlet’s rec centre and youth centre
- Limits essential businesses and facilities to a capacity of 10 people inside at any one time
- Keeps daycares open for essential workers only
- Closes the school to in-person learning
- Orders everyone to wear masks in public indoor spaces unless otherwise approved by the chief public health officer
Essential businesses and facilities allowed to remain open are the gas station, the two grocery stores, the health centre, and any childcare facility (including home-based childcare).
Acknowledging the containment order’s impositions are “not easy,” the NWT government said they were necessary as the risk of more Covid-19 transmission in Fort Liard is high.
“Public health has assessed the risk for further transmission in the community as high due to a significant number of close contacts for confirmed cases of Covid-19,” read Saturday night’s advisory, referring to the three cases now identified in Fort Liard.
“With larger numbers of contacts comes more chances for infection and outbreak. While contact tracing and targeted testing is ongoing, the large number of contacts in the community requires strong, decisive action to bring the situation under control through at least one incubation period.”
There remain no public exposure advisories for the community but the territorial government said that may change.
Premier to speak on Sunday
The territory now has 28 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic began and is still dealing with mysteries in Yellowknife and Hay River, both of which have unexplained instances of the virus. Daily updates are now expected from the NWT government as the situation escalates.
NWT Premier Caroline Cochrane will on Sunday hold a news conference to discuss what she termed in a tweet the “evolving Covid-19 situation” in Fort Liard.
Her remarks will be streamed live on Cabin Radio’s Facebook page from 12pm.
She will be joined by Dr Kandola and health minister Julie Green alongside Shane Thompson, the MLA for Nahendeh, who represents Fort Liard.
Fort Liard’s Acho Dene Koe First Nation on Saturday urged residents to remain calm.
The First Nation asked anyone in Fort Liard who doesn’t live there to remain in the community until they receive a Covid-19 test or are authorized to leave by the chief public health officer.
By Saturday evening, a sign had appeared on the road outside the community reading “no visitors until further notice.”
Who had placed the sign was not immediately clear.
In nearby Fort Simpson, a range of village businesses chose to close either for the purposes of deep cleaning or as a precautionary measure.