A Covid-19 testing sign in Fort Smith in June 2021. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio
The Northwest Territories is confronting the Delta variant of Covid-19 as its largest outbreak of the pandemic grows, officials confirmed on Wednesday.
As the results of laboratory analysis began to trickle back, the office of Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola said in a statement: “The first cases related to this outbreak have been confirmed as the Delta variant.”
It’s not the first time the Delta variant has been reported in the territory. According to the NWT’s Covid-19 dashboard, a case of the variant was detected in July. However, it’s the first time the Delta variant has been present in an NWT outbreak scenario.
There are currently 129 active cases of Covid-19 in the NWT, which just experienced its largest one-day jump of the pandemic to date, recording more than 50 new cases between Tuesday and Wednesday. Most were in the Sahtu region.
“These measures are not easy,” said Dr Kandola as Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake remained under a containment order, Norman Wells and Colville Lake joined Fort Good Hope in declaring an emergency, and travel to all Sahtu communities was strongly discouraged.
“The GNWT is working with all communities affected to support emergency response needs in the event residents need support during this time,” Kandola continued, pledging regular updates in both North Slavey and English on CKLB, the territory’s independent Indigenous-language broadcaster.
In Norman Wells, where an outbreak has been declared at a long-term care facility, Kandola told residents to “keep to a limited friendship circle” and avoid indoor gatherings.
“By limiting your social circle to those within your household and five close friends, it can help decrease your number of interactions and reduce the risk of transmission in the community,” she said.
“Consider working from home if possible, getting takeout or picnicking rather than dining indoors, wear a mask when not with household members or in indoor spaces, and connect with friends or loved ones over the phone or virtually.
“If at any time you or someone in your circle is sick, stay home and seek testing.”
Charter flights to get supplies to the Sahtu are being organized by the Covid-19 Secretariat and NWT health authority, while two compliance and enforcement officers arrived in Fort Good Hope on Tuesday evening. The community has received 20 cots and blankets to help isolation.