The number of COVID-19 cases in the Northwest Territories rose to 129 active cases Wednesday, and the Delta variant has been detected in the territory for the first time.
The Sahtu region accounts for 109 of the total cases, according to the territorial government's COVID-19 dashboard. Four cases were added in Yellowknife, bringing the capital city's total active count to 19.
According to a Wednesday evening news release from the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer, the first cases related to the current outbreak have been confirmed as the Delta variant. The press release did not specify how many cases were Delta.
There are fewer than five hospitalizations right now, says the release.
The dashboard is now reporting the vaccination status of positive cases. Since Jan. 1, 2021, 75.7 per cent of cases have been in unvaccinated people, 4.4 per cent have been in partially vaccinated people, and 19.9 per cent have been in fully vaccinated.
The dashboard also reports that 80 per cent of cases have been symptomatic, while 20 per cent have not shown symptoms.
Most of the cases in the N.W.T. have been among those under 30 years old.
Some new exposure notices were issued for Norman Wells and Délı̨nę on Wednesday.
The Norman Wells Legion on Aug. 13 from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Aug. 14 from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., is now considered a high exposure setting. Everyone who was there during either of those periods must isolate for 10 days from exposure and get tested.
Anyone who was at the Norman Wells mud bog event on Aug. 14 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and who is unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, must isolate for 10 days and get tested.
Chief Public Heath Officer Dr. Kami Kandola is recommending Norman Wells residents "keep to a limited friendship circle," and avoid indoor gatherings at this time.
At about 4 p.m. today town council in Norman Wells declared a state of emergency.
According to a town of Norman Wells Facebook post, people there have been "assured by Dr. Kami Kandola that Norman Wells will not be put in containment as 75 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated and we have access to a health care facility. At this time, Dr. Kandola has recommended that we limit public gatherings."
The state of emergency in effect for seven days.
'Take the vaccine'
N.W.T.'s case load has ballooned since Sunday, when COVID-19 cases emerged in Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake. The chief public health officer has since declared an outbreak and community transmission in the Sahtu region.
Brenda T'Seleie Pierrot is usually the manager of Fort Good Hope's men's shelter, but after the community of about 500 people declared a state of emergency, she was one of the people named to the team co-ordinating the local COVID-19 response. That's meant helping to organize food and grocery deliveries to people in self-isolation, among other things.
She spoke to Trail's End host Lawrence Nayally Wednesday afternoon.
"It's been very crazy," she said, describing "a lot of fear and anxiety" and some "panic."
T'Seleie Pierrot said at first, people anxious to get tested for COVID-19 at the community hall were not physical distancing.
"The lineup outside of the hall wasn't as bad yesterday evening," she said. "Everybody stayed in their vehicles and just waited to be called."
But, she added, "there's still people that are not taking it seriously."
Things got serious for her Tuesday.
"We had to go back on the radio yesterday and announced that two people had been medevaced out for further care," she said. "They don't have what they need here … so that kind of made people really think about how serious it is."
She said she's grateful to the many people from outside of the community who've reached out to help, and to those who've tested positive who are self-isolating so as not to spread the virus further.
But she has one message for people in her community.
"I just want people to seriously think about taking the vaccine," she said. "Think about your neighbours. Think about your elders especially ... take the vaccine if you have a chance."
She also asked people to be patient if waiting for grocery deliveries.
"We only have so many people that are helping and trying to do whatever they can to help you," she said. "Be patient with them. I know it's frustrating."