The NWT’s August Covid-19 outbreak now includes 109 cases in the Sahtu and 19 in Yellowknife, figures updated on Wednesday evening show.
According to the territory’s Covid-19 dashboard, the NWT identified more than 50 new active cases in the past 24 hours – its largest one-day jump during the pandemic to date – and now sits at 129 overall, the vast majority of which are linked to the Sahtu and a superspreader hand games event in Fort Good Hope.
Alongside the cases in Yellowknife and the Sahtu, one person has been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the Beaufort Delta. A detailed breakdown of cases in Sahtu communities was not provided.
The territory has now recorded 305 cases since the pandemic began. Three days ago, that figure sat below 200.
Public health officials, in a Wednesday evening update, said fewer than five people had so far required hospital treatment. In the update, officials said the first cases of the outbreak had now been confirmed as the Delta variant.
Norman Wells declared an emergency on Wednesday, the same day an outbreak was reported at the town’s long-term care facility.
“We are assured by Dr Kami Kandola that Norman Wells will not be put in containment as 75 percent of the adult population is fully vaccinated and we have access to a healthcare facility,” the town said in a statement, referring to the territory’s chief public health officer.
“At this time, Dr Kandola has recommended that we limit public gatherings,” the town added.
Earlier, the CBC reported the territorial government had called on the Red Cross and federal government for assistance as its own resources are depleted.
The Canadian Red Cross confirmed receipt of that request in a statement to Cabin Radio, saying it was “well-positioned to assist.”
“We can confirm that Red Cross is in discussions with the Northwest Territories government about potential assistance with their ongoing Covid-19 response,” a spokesperson wrote. “We do not have any other information to share about the discussions at this time.”
So far, the NWT has not called for military help. A spokesperson for the Canadian Armed Forces in Yellowknife said no request for assistance had been received.
There were new or updated exposure notifications for Norman Wells and Délı̨nę on Wednesday. As of 5:30pm, there was no change to the exposure guidance for Yellowknife.
The NWT government continues to recommend against travel to Sahtu communities and urges mask-wearing at indoor public spaces throughout the territory. The Town of Fort Smith requested mask-wearing in certain circumstances at municipal facilities, the nearby Dark Sky Festival scheduled for this weekend was cancelled, and RCMP halted front counter services at the Yellowknife detachment but said other operations are unaffected.
In a letter to mayors and chiefs, health minister Julie Green asked local leaders to help get as many residents fully vaccinated as possible.
Green said exceeding a 75-percent full vaccination rate among residents aged 12 and up was now “more important than ever.” That figure stands at 73 percent according to the latest published data.
While it’s not clear how many of the 129 active cases are in fully vaccinated residents – Cabin Radio has asked for that figure – the NWT government did share data for all cases since the start of 2021.
Since January 1, 76 percent of Covid-19 cases (171 instances) in the NWT have been reported in unvaccinated people. Twenty percent (45 cases) were in fully vaccinated people and the remaining four percent (10 cases) were in partially vaccinated people.
On Twitter, Kandola said: “A Covid-19 infection in a fully vaccinated person does not mean the vaccine is not working. We expect unvaccinated people will have 10 times the rate of infection of vaccinated people.”
McKenna Hadley-Burke and Sarah Sibley contributed reporting.