Life going back to normal in Colville Lake, N.W.T., where about half the population had COVID-19

·2 min read
Chief Wilbert Kochon said life is returning to normal in Colville Lake, N.W.T., after about half the population of the community of 155 had COVID-19. (John Last/CBC - image credit)
Chief Wilbert Kochon said life is returning to normal in Colville Lake, N.W.T., after about half the population of the community of 155 had COVID-19. (John Last/CBC - image credit)

Things are slowly getting back to normal in Colville Lake, N.W.T., after about half the community's population had COVID-19.

According to statistics from the N.W.T. government, at its peak on Aug. 27, there were 79 reported cases of COVID-19 in the community of about 155 people.

As of Sept. 7, there are no more cases in the community.

"Everything's come back to normal," said Chief Wilbert Kochon. "I've seen kids around so that's a good thing. Nobody really got sick. Some of them were medevaced but all came back home."

A containment order issued by the territory's chief public health officer on Aug. 15 was lifted on Sept. 4.

At its peak on Aug. 30, territorial health officials reported 249 active cases in Colville Lake, Fort Good Hope, Délı̨nę and Norman Wells. The statistics indicate many cases recovered the next day when only 60 cases were reported in the region.

Kochon said Colville Lake's leadership is still trying to keep people apart despite the end of the outbreak in the community.

"You still never know when it might come again," he said. "People are cooperating really well. So I think they've learned something from this. Hopefully nothing like this happens again."

He said everyone is out of isolation and there are nurses in the community in case somebody else gets sick.

"We have never had any full time nurses," he said, adding he was grateful for their presence and the work they did.

'Everybody is vulnerable'

Kochon said what they're trying to do now is encourage people in the community not to travel. Instead, he said he hopes people will spend about a week to 10 days on the land for the fall hunt.

"We're just going to go to Horton Lake and stay there for a bit and hopefully everybody stays safe," he said.

He said no one in the community expected COVID-19 to reach Colville Lake "but now they realize that everybody is vulnerable and that we really have to ... not let our guard down."

He said the vaccination rate in the community has gone up.

"A lot of the adults all got needles now, even the ones that didn't want it," he said.

Kochon said what he's learned most from the experience is that leadership in different communities and organizations need to communicate more.

"A lot of travel happened right within that couple of days and a lot of spread happened in that few days and there was no communication," he said.

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