N.W.T. investigating after 7 Hong Kong tourists who visited Yellowknife test positive for COVID-19

Seven tourists from Hong Kong who were part of a three-country tour, including a stop in Yellowknife, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Hong Kong's Department of Health.   

In an email statement to CBC News, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection said it's investigating a cluster of COVID-19 cases involving patients who joined a group tour from Hong Kong to Canada, Peru and Bolivia from Feb. 19 to March 17.

"Investigations revealed that the patients had visited Yellowknife while in Canada," the statement reads.

No further details were provided. It's unclear when the tour group was in Yellowknife.

A Northwest Territories government spokesperson told CBC that it's also conducting an investigation.

"We had not received notification from the Government of Canada or Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection prior to the media reports. We immediately began investigating and have been in touch with both parties regularly trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together," said Mike Westwick in an email.

"We are collecting information on their context and movements and will comment further when we have all the pieces in place," he wrote.

"This is a priority for us."

Tourists flew back via Vancouver

Data published on Hong Kong's Department of Health website shows the seven patients — six women and one man — are in their 60s and 70s. 

Their symptoms include sore throat, fever and cough. The six women developed their symptoms between March 13 and March 18.

The man became symptomatic on March 3. He flew back to Hong Kong from Vancouver onboard an Air Canada flight on March 20, according to a list of flights taken by people with confirmed COVID-19 cases published by the Hong Kong Centre for Health Protection

Three of the women took the same route on March 17 while two others flew back to Hong Kong via Vancouver on March 15.

The flight information for one of the women was not listed.

N.W.T. has reported a single case of COVID-19 in Yellowknife. That individual had travelled to British Columbia and Alberta before returning to the city. 

As of Tuesday, 492 people in the territory have been tested with 176 pending results, according to the government.