The Northwest Territories, Tłı̨chǫ, and Behchokǫ̀ governments said they would find additional resources for the community’s residents as a two-week containment order related to a Covid-19 outbreak begins.
The order came into effect on Thursday morning. Behchokǫ̀ is currently reporting 11 cases of Covid-19, a number officials say they expect to grow with community spread ongoing.
In a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Premier Caroline Cochrane said the territory is “at a critical moment in the pandemic”, and the NWT government needed to take swift action to protect communities and its healthcare system.
“To the residents of Behchokǫ̀, I want you to know that the Government of the Northwest Territories is doing everything we can to limit the number of cases in the community,” Premier Cochrane said.
“If we’ve learned anything from past experiences … it’s that when we come together and support one another through tough, challenging times, that’s when we make a difference.”
Behchokǫ̀ Chief Clifford Daniels encouraged residents to stay at home, follow public health advice like social distancing and wearing masks, and get vaccinated to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“Please do not travel unless it is absolutely essential and necessary. We do not want to bring more risk to Behchokǫ̀ or be part of the spreading of Covid-19 to others,” Chief Daniels said.
Daniels said food hampers are being prepared for Behchokǫ̀ residents and helplines, including a Tłı̨chǫ-language support line, are available.
The Tłı̨chǫ Government will provide childcare for children of essential workers during the containment order, though officials said the safest option is for children to remain at home if they can.
NWT health minister Julie Green said six territorial staff in Behchokǫ̀ are working on the outbreak, alongside a nurse and doctor from the Canadian Red Cross and a nurse redeployed from the Beaufort Delta.
Rebecca Nash, director of health and social services for the Tłı̨chǫ Community Services Agency, said the health centre in Behchokǫ̀ remains at an emergency service level.
Cochrane said the territory’s Covid-19 Secretariat will send six months of personal protective equipment to the community and deploy three officers to enforce containment.
Meanwhile, Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, and Dettah have returned to gathering restrictions as the number of active Covid-19 cases rises to 83 in Yellowknife and an outbreak continues among people who use the city’s shelters.
Behchokǫ̀ is the latest community to be placed into containment during the pandemic. Similar measures were taken in Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake last month, while an ongoing containment order in Norman Wells is expected to lift on September 14.
In January, the NWT’s chief public health officer issued a containment order for Fort Liard over a cluster of cases in the Dehcho hamlet.