As the number of Covid-19 cases across the NWT continues to rise, the territorial government announced mandatory masking and changes to self-isolation rules.
On Wednesday, Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola issued an order requiring mask wearing in all indoor public spaces across the NWT, effective Thursday at 8am.
“The delta variant is spreading quickly across the NWT and is putting NWT at risk,” she said in a statement. “Hundreds of contagious droplets can be generated by just speaking to someone, but nearly all of them are blocked when wearing a mask.”
Kandola’s office also said containment orders for Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope – which have seen high numbers of Covid-19 infections related to the current outbreak – would be extended until September 4.
Under the containment orders, anyone in these communities who tested positive must remain in isolation until a health care provider tells them they have recovered – after that, the containment order no longer applies to them. This marks a new distinction between residents who have recovered from Covid-19 and those who did not have Covid-19 or who have not recovered.
The territorial government defines someone as recovered when 10 days have passed since their Covid-19 symptoms started if their infection was not severe or 10 days have passed since they received a positive test but did not have any symptoms.
“As some residents in both Colville Lake and Fort Good recover from COVID-19, other residents remain at risk,” Kandola stated.
The territorial government is also making changes to testing dates for travellers.
Symptom checks for people who have entered the territory will now only be completed by the government on days two and six, meaning symptom checks will no longer be required on days 10 and 14.
Test dates for fully vaccinated travelers that require self-isolation entry and exit Covid-19 tests have now changed to day eight instead of day 14. Entry and exit tests are required for certain workers and people traveling on to small NWT communities following self-isolation.
Partially vaccinated travelers can now receive an exit test on day eight instead of day 14 of their self-isolation, while unvaccinated travelers will be tested on day 10 instead of day 14.
Finally, while 75 percent of the territory’s adult population is now fully vaccinated, leisure travel will not be happening in the territory any time soon, due to Canada seeing an average of over 1,000 new cases daily.
Kandola said she is considering amendments that will allow for leisure travel, but for now, these are delayed due to the strain the ongoing outbreak is having on the territory’s health care system.