NWT’s public health emergency extended into 14th month

Julie Green at the NWT legislature in February 2021
Julie Green at the NWT legislature.

The NWT’s public health emergency was again extended as the territory approached the point at which three quarters of eligible adults will have received at least one vaccine dose.

The extension issued by health minister Julie Green on Tuesday renews the NWT chief public health officer’s expanded powers to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, such as implementing travel, isolation, and gathering restrictions.

By law, the emergency must be either renewed or terminated every two weeks. It has been continuously extended for more than a year since its initial declaration in mid-March 2020, with the current extension set to last until April 27, 2021.

There are approximately 34,400 adults over the age of 18 in the territory according to the NWT Bureau of Statistics. Using that figure, the NWT government’s vaccination data suggests a little more than 70 percent of eligible residents have received at least one dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine, while nearly half have received two doses. 



However, the NWT has also been vaccinating non-resident workers such as rotational mine workers who are in close contact with resident colleagues. The extent of that number, which the GNWT does not routinely report, has an impact on how close the territory is to its initial goal of vaccinating 75 percent of eligible adult residents.

Cabin Radio has asked the NWT government to quantify the number of non-resident workers vaccinated to date but has yet to receive that data.

Health minister Green recently suggested the development of variants of the virus responsible for Covid-19, and continuing uncertainty about the ability of vaccines to inhibit virus transmission, may mean the 75-percent target changes in future.

The NWT’s Emerging Wisely plan – the document that governs public health restrictions in the territory – is set to be reviewed by the end of April.

There are currently two active Covid-19 cases in the NWT: one involving a resident and one a non-resident.