The territorial government announced one new confirmed and one probable case of Covid-19 related to the NJ Macpherson School outbreak in Yellowknife on Thursday afternoon, bringing the cluster’s total number of cases to 64.
Of those cases, 20 have since recovered. There is also still one active case of Covid-19 at the Diavik diamond mine, bringing the NWT’s total number of active cases to 45.
No new public exposure notices were announced on Thursday.
The NJ Macpherson School cluster involves the B117 variant – or “UK variant” – of the virus that causes Covid-19.
On Wednesday, schools were told they can reopen beginning May 17, though the decision will be left to individual school boards. Schools in Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and Behchokǫ̀ had earlier been closed by the NWT’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, in an attempt to limit the spread of the outbreak.
Youth extracurricular and recreational activities can also return on Monday. Masks must still be worn in public indoor spaces in Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀, with no foreseeable end date.
Kandola said the decision to re-open schools comes as the number of new daily infections has dropped and isolation periods are nearing an end for many families.
She noted that new infections are mainly the result of household transmission; there is no evidence of transmission to school staff within classrooms; and all positive cases are in students, their close contacts, or household members.
By Sunday, it is expected 60 percent of the 12 to 17 year old population in Yellowknife Yellowknife, Dettah, Ndilǫ and Behchokǫ̀ will have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
According to a Q&A published by the territorial government, only students and staff in isolation who were deemed contacts as part of the NJ Macpherson School outbreak will need to be tested for Covid-19. A negative result will allow them to return to school and let their household members leave isolation.
Other members of the household do not need a test unless that household has included someone who earlier tested positive for Covid-19 as part of the cluster.
All NJ Macpherson School students and staff from Junior Kindergarten to Grade Five, and anyone else considered a contact from public exposure notifications, must be tested between day 10 and 14 of their isolation period.
Children who have tested negative should bring their Covid-19 assessment card to school.
Those looking to book online for the NJ Macpherson testing site can do so on the health authority’s website. Those who have tests booked at the Yellowknife Covid testing site can keep those appointments.
Staff and students – not household members of active cases or anyone with Covid-19 symptoms- of NJ Macpherson can book testing for May 14 from 9am to 11am.
Affected classes at Sir John Franklin High School can book for 9am to 11am on May 14.
All other exposures can be tested on May 14 from 11am until 6pm and May 15 from 9am to 6pm.