The Northwest Territories government announced 18 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the territory’s total number of active cases to 262 among NWT residents, and two out-of-territory residents. The territory reported it’s first Covid-19-related death on Tuesday.
In its daily update, the office of the chief public health officer said the number of cumulative hospitalizations to date are still less than 10. On Wednesday, health officials said there had been a total of eight hospitalizations related to Covid-19.
The majority of active Covid-19 cases remain in the Sahtu region. Most of the new cases announced on Thursday are in Norman Wells which now has 41 active cases, up from 29 cases on Wednesday. There are 89 cases in Fort Good Hope, 76 in Colville Lake, and nine in Délınę.
Behchokǫ̀ is the newest community to see an active case, which comes just days after the territorial government asked residents to get tested after traces of Covid-19 were unexpectedly detected in the community’s sewage.
Inuvik and Fort Smith both remain at one case each, Gamètì has two confirmed cases, Hay River/ Kátł’odeeche First Nation and Fort Providence each have three cases, and Yellowknife has 39 active cases.
Also on Thursday, health officials clarified that all three flights from Yellowknife to Gamètì on August 22 at 3:30pm are now considered potential Covid-19 exposure sites. Previously only one unspecified flight to the community was listed under the territory’s exposure notices.
Fully vaccinated individuals on those flights must self-monitor and arrange testing if Covid-19 symptoms develop. Partially and unvaccinated individuals must isolate for 10 days and arrange testing.
Thursday was also the territory’s first day under a newly ordered mandatory mask mandate for all public indoor spaces, as Chief Public Health Officer Dr Kami Kandola warned that community spread is beginning in Yellowknife and is believed to have occurred in Fort Good Hope, Colville Lake and Norman Wells.
Tulita, the only community in the Sahtu without any active Covid-19 cases, declared a state of local emergency on Wednesday due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Currently, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake all remain under containment orders to slow the spread of the disease.
Kandola talks delta variant, children’s vaccines, and vaccine passports
Many of the new Covid-19 cases have been identified as the delta variant. According to the latest statistics, 67 cases have been identified as the delta variant while 199 are pending results, and two are unresolved.
“What we know is the delta variant is highly transmissible and it’s driving pretty much practically all of the infections now in Canada,” Kandola told CBC’s The Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis on Thursday morning. “The first week of August, it was responsible for 93 percent of the variants, but it’s now almost the end of August, so it will be a lot higher than that.”
Kandola explained the delta variant has a shorter incubation period, meaning it takes an average of four days for symptoms to develop following exposure compared to six days for other variants.
Kandola said she expects Health Canada to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for children ages five to 12 years in late fall, after the results of clinical trials are released in late September or early October.
Additional clinical trial results for children under five are also expected later in the fall, but vaccines for these age groups likely won’t be available until 2022.
Kandola also touched on vaccine passports, saying the federal government is looking at creating a standardized vaccine credentialing document that can be used when traveling within Canada or abroad. That document likely won’t be finalized until after the federal election on September 20.