City facilities closed, youth activities cancelled as Yellowknife grapples with school outbreak

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A person connected to a school in Yellowknife tested positive for COVID-19 without obvious source of infection. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters - image credit)
A person connected to a school in Yellowknife tested positive for COVID-19 without obvious source of infection. (NIAID Integrated Research Facility/Reuters - image credit)

A person connected to N.J. Macpherson School in Yellowknife has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the chief public health officer to declare the first school outbreak in the N.W.T. and to stop in-person learning at that school for two weeks.

Final lab testing is pending, but Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said four probable cases are closely linked to the case, in a statement late Saturday night.

Child and youth extracurricular activities in the city are suspended until further notice, Dr. Kandola said.

The City of Yellowknife has also closed all of its facilities Sunday, and said it planned to update the public Monday.

"Our administration is working to determine options to see if we can proceed with limited openings, within the [Chief Public Health Office] guidelines, of course, for the week ahead," said Sheila Bassi-Kellet, Yellowknife's city manager.

Anyone who was at N.J. Macpherson during regular hours from April 26-29 is asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days and monitor for symptoms.

The school — a part of Yellowknife Education District No. 1 — will move to remote learning starting Monday for the same time period. A letter from public health has been sent out to students, families and staff members who have not been identified as close contacts.

Those connected to the school who have received both vaccinations at least two weeks ago can safely work if no one in the household has symptoms or has been notified by public health that they are a close contact. If you have not been asked to go and get tested, said public health, you do not need to do so at this time.

A public exposure notice has also been issued for anyone who was at:

  • Quiznos Restaurant on Thursday, April 29, between 6:15 and 7:15.

Suspensions and cancellations

Dr. Kandola's office confirmed Sunday the cancellation of all child and youth activities refers to activities organized through schools or community groups that have regularly scheduled meeting times.

Individual organizations have announced the suspension of their activities until further notice on social media, including Basketball NWT, the NWT Soccer Association and NWT Softball.

The new positive case brings the number of confirmed positive cases in Yellowknife to seven.

Last week, the public learned five of the previous six cases were the B117 variant, which originated in the U.K.

The chief public health office said then that all new infections in the capital would be treated as variants of concern until confirmed otherwise.

Dr. Kandola is also urging people against spontaneous group gatherings in Yellowknife.