NWT moves to 160 active Covid-19 cases on New Year’s Eve
The Northwest Territories said on Friday its active Covid-19 case count had moved to 160, an increase of 42 in the past 24 hours.
The territory’s chief public health officer, Dr Kami Kandola, earlier said she now assumed all newly identified cases of Covid-19 in the NWT to be the Omicron variant unless sequencing later suggested otherwise.
Yellowknife, Ndilǫ, and Dettah have 132 of the 160 active cases reported on Friday, an increase of 30 active cases for the second day in a row.
No community-by-community update was provided, but active cases in the Tłı̨chǫ region rose from five to 10, while the Dehcho moved from zero to three active cases and Hay River from zero to one.
The Beaufort Delta now reports four active cases, up from one a day earlier. Fort Smith and the Sahtu remain on eight and two active cases respectively.
The NWT government is publishing the results of up to 200 Covid-19 tests daily, the first time in months the territory has handled such a figure as festive travellers return and Covid-19 cases and exposure increase.
Testing capacity is sufficiently strained that many people are now being asked to take at-home rapid tests and call Protect NWT if the test is positive, rather than visit a testing centre for confirmation.
Flights newly added as exposure locations include Canadian North’s New Year’s Eve Edmonton-Inuvik departure and an Air Tindi flight on Friday from Yellowknife to Hay River.
WestJet’s Thursday, December 30 flight from Calgary to Yellowknife is also affected.
Check the NWT government’s exposure notifications webpage for more details and instructions.
Omicron silver lining?
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported that more than half a dozen significant studies published in recent days conclude Omicron is milder than Delta and earlier variants.
Initial studies suggest the milder symptoms are a result of Omicron doing less damage to the lungs, ordinarily, than would be expected of infection by Delta or another variant.
Earlier this week, the same newspaper reported a South African study that suggested Omicron infection may provide immunity to variants like Delta.
“Omicron is likely to push Delta out,” Alex Sigal, a virologist at the Africa Health Research Institute, told the Times.
“Maybe pushing Delta out is actually a good thing, and we’re looking at something we can live with more easily and that will disrupt us less than the previous variants.”