Yellowknife’s cluster of five active Covid-19 cases was caused by the coronavirus variant B117, the NWT government announced on Wednesday evening.
Known as the “UK variant” as it was first identified in the United Kingdom, B117 is a so-called variant of concern as research to date suggests it is easier to transmit and deadlier than earlier forms of the virus.
In a news release, the NWT’s chief public health officer said all five cases connected to Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn – who proactively identified himself as the cluster’s first case last week – involve the B117 variant. Samples were tested at an Alberta laboratory.
Yellowknife has six active Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday evening. The sixth is unrelated to the cluster and the form of coronavirus with which it is associated is not known. There is no information related to the nature of the virus that caused active cases in Fort Smith or Inuvik.
There have been no new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Yellowknife since Sunday. The territory says more than 900 tests have taken place since April 19.
Meanwhile, Imperial Oil – which operates a facility in Norman Wells – on Wednesday told Sahtu residents an employee of the company had tested positive for Covid-19 and was isolating. The NWT government later said two employees had tested positive and there was no identified public risk. Both were said to be doing well.