There are now 61 Covid-19 cases associated with the latest Yellowknife outbreak as a further 10 were reported by the NWT government on Tuesday.
Six of the cases confirmed on Tuesday were in children and the other four were in adults. In all, 53 Yellowknife children have now contracted the disease in the past two weeks.
There are six additional cases deemed probable but not yet confirmed by laboratory analysis.
All of the cases stem from the NJ Macpherson School outbreak first reported at the end of April, which involves the B117 or “UK variant” of the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19.
The NWT’s chief public health officer said there were no new public exposure warnings associated with the cluster.
Meanwhile, Dr Kami Kandola’s office did not respond to questions on Tuesday regarding how isolation is expected to end for people considered contacts of the cluster.
Around 1,000 people have been told they are contacts. Isolation for Covid-19 contacts involves a 14-day period where they must not leave their property, a stricter set of rules than those normally in place for people isolating after travel beyond the territory.
More than a dozen families have contacted Cabin Radio in the past 48 hours to report conflicting advice regarding what happens when that 14-day period ends for cluster contacts: in particular, whether a negative Covid-19 test will be required or not before isolation can be considered complete.
Some parents have also questioned what happens to people who tested positive for Covid-19 as part of the cluster when they eventually return a negative test and are considered recovered. If that happens within 14 days of their initial diagnosis, it’s not clear whether they are then free to continue as normal or must complete any form of isolation.
Similarly, Dr Kandola’s office did not respond to questions regarding the plan for Yellowknife schools to reopen once the cluster is considered to be under control and numbers of active cases dwindle.
It is not clear if such a plan yet exists or how much notice parents will receive if schools do reopen for the remaining weeks of the academic year. The decision to allow schools to reopen rests with the chief public health officer, who ordered the closure of Yellowknife, Dettah, and Ndilǫ schools on May 2, followed by Behchokǫ̀ schools on May 3.
Sarah Pruys contributed reporting.