How the NWT’s 2021 fall Covid-19 outbreak developed

Last modified: December 13, 2021 at 6:30pm


This page tracked how the Northwest Territories’ outbreak of Covid-19 spread between August and December 2021.

In early December 2021, the NWT government said it was scaling back its production of data related to the disease. The change in data produced by the GNWT meant the charts on this page could no longer be maintained.


Where previously the GNWT published new community data each weekday, from December 13, 2021, the territory has published only weekly community-by-community data. That data contains two numbers per community: total number of cases since the pandemic began, and number of active cases that week.

Because the GNWT did not routinely publish case counts by community until August 2021, and has now shifted to publishing only total numbers by community since the pandemic began, it is no longer possible to correlate the new data – which covers a different time span and uses an amended methodology – with the former data.

The charts on this page therefore reflect only the daily data published from August to December 2021.

The NWT reached 1,000 cases on September 27, around 18 months after the pandemic began. The next 1,000 cases took just a month and a half as a fall outbreak of the Delta variant hit the territory.

That outbreak began in August in the Sahtu region, badly disrupted Yellowknife and Behchokǫ̀ in October, and was responsible for heightened public health restrictions in Hay River and Tuktoyaktuk.


The first wave, encompassing the Sahtu communities, took place in August 2021 after a hand games tournament in Fort Good Hope turned into a Delta variant superspreader event.

Fort Good Hope, a community of 610 people, recorded 114 cases in a month. Colville Lake recorded 79 cases in a community of 151, meaning more than half of its residents contracted the disease.

By September, the outbreak had moved to the Yellowknife region. The city of 21,300 people had recorded 65 cases in the current outbreak by the end of August, a figure that ballooned to 456 cases by the eve of Thanksgiving and more than 900 cases by November 10.

Yellowknife entered its harshest pandemic restrictions yet on September 30, barring visitors in many households. Those restrictions expired on October 22. Schools in the city were closed from September 14 to October 25.


Behchokǫ̀, a community of 2,000 people, recorded 147 cases of Covid-19 in September and more than 200 cases in October. Behchokǫ̀ spent weeks in containment, closing many businesses and restricting travel to those fully vaccinated or testing negative for Covid-19, until emerging from those restrictions in early November.

Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation, which together recorded around 80 cases in an October outbreak, also spent time under heightened restrictions. Tuktoyaktuk entered containment on November 8 and had reported 128 cases of Covid-19 by December.

The first person to pass away from Covid-19 in the Northwest Territories was Gabriel Kochon, a 92-year-old Elder from Fort Good Hope, on August 23, 2021. The death was reported by the NWT’s chief public health officer on August 24, after which Gabriel’s family publicly identified him as the person concerned. (Read his obituary.)

By mid-November, a total of 12 NWT residents were reported to have passed away from Covid-19. The people to have passed away in those instances have not yet been publicly identified by their families.

Data regarding vaccination – including vaccination rates by community and the percentage of Covid-19 cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people – is reported on the GNWT’s Covid-19 dashboard.

By November 2, the territorial government said the NWT was “moving out of the outbreak.” On November 4, the territory marked its first day without new cases since early August. The first four-day period without cases since the fall outbreak began came from November 26 to 29.