The NWT government says Yellowknife sewage samples suggest there is “likely at least one undetected case of Covid-19 in the city.”
Anyone isolating or self-monitoring in Yellowknife between April 14 and 17 after travel beyond the territory should arrange a Covid-19 test, the territorial government said in a Monday evening news release.
Sewage sampling can’t detect individual cases but is used by governments as a back-up means of detecting the presence of the virus responsible for Covid-19 in wastewater. It’s not clear if the sampling detects and reports separate variants of the virus.
The office of the NWT’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, said a positive signal in last week’s Yellowknife sample could be “from one or more individuals” and it is “possible that Covid-19 has been transmitted to others.”
However, Dr Kandola’s office said there was currently “not enough information to confidently assess public risk.”
The news comes days after an outbreak of Covid-19 in neighbouring Nunavut’s territorial capital, Iqaluit. So far, no fresh cases in Yellowknife have been identified and confirmed.
“With evidence pointing toward at least one undetected case of Covid-19 in Yellowknife,” Kandola’s office said, public health officials were “asking the public to assist us in containing the situation quickly and prevent ongoing transmission.”
Urging people who recently returned from travel to get tested, the territory said results of those tests and additional sewage sampling in the coming days “will allow us to better characterize the risk to the public in Yellowknife and the NWT.”
Anyone isolating or self-monitoring in Yellowknife at any stage between April 14 and 17 was told to sign up for a Covid-19 test, as were essential workers who weren’t isolating at that time because they had an exemption. It doesn’t matter if you have symptoms or not, the territory said.
Nunavut travellers who passed through Yellowknife between those dates should also be tested according to the GNWT’s advisory.
Testing isn’t needed if you’re an essential worker who was already tested in order to be cleared to work.
If you’re isolating because someone else in your household travelled, you don’t need a test unless you develop symptoms.
Yellowknife’s Covid-19 testing centre, which recently moved to a location near the city’s airport, will have expanded hours of 8:30am-7:30pm from Tuesday to Saturday this week. You can book an appointment online.
“If you have symptoms and cannot find an appointment online, a limited number of walk-ins for people with symptoms can be accommodated,” the territory said.
If you’re isolating at the Chateau Nova hotel, there is an on-site testing centre from 8am to 4pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, It’s a walk-in clinic on the fourth floor.
If you need a test in another community, contact your local health centre.