Behchokǫ̀ plans more Covid-19 measures as vaccine clinic maxes out

Regina Yuen, a registered nurse, organizes needles and supplies during vaccinations against Covid-19 in Dettah
Regina Yuen, a registered nurse, organizes needles and supplies during vaccinations against Covid-19 in Dettah. Pat Kane/National Geographic Society Covid-19 Emergency Fund

Behchokǫ̀ chief Clifford Daniels says the community is feeling “a little bit of relief” now that younger residents will have their chance to be vaccinated at a clinic next week.

As of Thursday evening, there were 47 confirmed and three probable cases of Covid-19 connected to the NJ Macpherson School outbreak in Yellowknife.

More than 1,000 people are isolating in connection with the outbreak, including some residents of Behchokǫ̀ who may have attended events in Yellowknife last weekend, such as a youth soccer tournament.

The first teenagers in Yellowknife received the two-shot Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Thursday, with more appointments to come in the next week.



“There was nothing for them for almost over a year now,” said Daniels.

“I think it’s good for them to have a vaccination so they can get back to school.”

The chief believes there was some “hesitancy” for adult residents in getting the vaccine at first, but thinks that is changing.

A pop-up vaccine clinic in the community on Thursday ran out of doses by mid-afternoon.



The Tłıc̨hǫ Government said on Facebook another clinic for eligible adults will take place on Monday, May 10 from 1pm to 5pm at the recreation centre.

Sewage testing, used by the territorial government as an early-warning system for undetected Covid-19 cases in a community, is now being set up in Behchokǫ̀.

“People are fearful it could still come to our community, so there’s lots of caution here,” Daniels said.

“We’re trying to protect and keep our community and people safe as best we can.”

A special meeting of Behchokǫ̀’s council on Wednesday saw further discussion about setting up an information booth for people who may be travelling to the community, after Premier Caroline Cochrane earlier told communities fully fledged checkpoints are not allowed.  

“However, communities are looking at giving people information, and that is appropriate to help share the message to actually inform people,” Cochrane said at a news conference on Monday.

Daniels said Behchokǫ̀ hopes to have an information booth and wastewater surveillance up and running as soon as possible. Residents are translating the latest Covid-19 information for Elders.



Daniels said the community is working on “surge planning” and how to handle cases that may come into the community in the future.

“We had that discussion – of what possible locations we have in the community to isolate people – because we do have this issue of overcrowding in units and people’s places,” the chief said.

“You don’t want to put an isolating person in with a big family, so those things have been discussed too and we have some places available should that happen.”

Non-essential travel to and from Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and Behchokǫ̀ remains discouraged by the chief public health officer. Schools in the four communities are closed.