The chief of the Łutsël K'é Dene First Nation said there were two more positive cases of COVID-19 in his community on Saturday, while N.W.T. public health officials issued a new exposure notice for a flight that travelled to Yellowknife, Norman Wells and Inuvik.
Chief Darryl Marlowe told CBC News there are now a total of three cases of the virus in Łutsël K'é — and the two latest cases are linked to the first, which stemmed from travel.
"They were all together, they're all in the same family," he explained.
The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer (OCPHO) said it would not be updating its COVID-19 case counts until Monday, but Marlowe said the office and the local health centre confirmed the new cases with him.
On Friday, a public exposure notice was issued for a Sept. 8 Air Tindi flight from Yellowknife to Łutsël K'é. That's the day Marlowe said the family had been travelling.
Exposure notice aboard Canadian North flight
The OCPHO issued a new public exposure notice Saturday for a Canadian North flight on Sept. 10. Rows 17 to 23 on flight 446, which left Edmonton and made stops in Yellowknife, Norman Wells and Inuvik are impacted by the exposure notice.
People in those rows who are fully vaccinated are asked to monitor themselves for symptoms, and to isolate and arrange for testing if symptoms develop. Those who are either partially vaccinated or unvaccinated are required to isolate for 10 days and arrange for testing.
Anxiety running high
Back in Łutsël K'é, Marlowe said anxiety levels among residents are running high.
"They're all scared for themselves and for family members — especially with elders, because we do have a lot of people in the community with compromised immune systems."
Marlowe said the community has been locked down since the first positive test came back, prompting the closure of its only school and the band office. Most people are respecting a travel advisory discouraging travel in and out of the community of about 300 people, he said, and the local grocery store is taking orders and delivering food to households.
But, he added, it's hard for people not to mingle outside of their households.
"We're like one big family and there's a lot of interaction between one another," he said. "That's why I'm encouraging people to stay within their own family bubbles."
The total number of recent COVID-19 cases in the N.W.T. moved up to 464 as of Friday, 134 of which are active among residents.