N.W.T.-wide COVID-19 gathering order to be in place all winter, says CPHO

·2 min read
The travel restrictions in place in Behchokǫ̀, pictured, are on track to be lifted on Nov. 8, as scheduled, said the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer at a news conference on Nov. 3. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)
The travel restrictions in place in Behchokǫ̀, pictured, are on track to be lifted on Nov. 8, as scheduled, said the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer at a news conference on Nov. 3. (Walter Strong/CBC - image credit)

The N.W.T.-wide gathering order will be in place for the winter, says the territory's chief public health officer, despite the fact the number of COVID-19 cases continues to decrease in the territory.

"The pandemic is not over," Dr. Kami Kandola said during a news conference Wednesday.

As winter approaches, she said more and more people will be moving indoors and the risk of contracting COVID-19 will increase.

She cautioned that there is still a "low line level of community transmission that is occurring in Yellowknife" that she's monitoring, and that there will still be what she called "introductions" of COVID-19 in the territory throughout the winter.

Kandola said the best thing people can do is get vaccinated and reminded everyone to continue to follow all public health measures.

The number of cases in the N.W.T. has gone down every day for the past week. On Tuesday, it stood at 87, down from 265 on Oct. 22. The number of cases peaked in the territory at 460 on Oct. 7.

Kandola said the downward trend in the number of cases, and the fact there are less than 100 cases in the territory, is good news.

She said the travel restrictions for Behchokǫ̀ are on track to end on Nov. 8, as scheduled.

On Tuesday, she said she planned to loosen gathering restrictions in Hay River, and lift the containment order in K'atl'odeeche First Nation, one week earlier than scheduled, if cases continue to decline in the two communities.

Surgeries being scheduled 'as normal' again

Dr. AnneMarie Pegg, the territory's medical director, said the pandemic had an effect on health-care services across the territory.

She couldn't provide exact figures on how different procedures were impacted but said surgeries are being scheduled "as normal at Stanton Hospital."

"We are … working toward ensuring that in-person appointments, and such, as they're appropriate in our primary care facilities, are also resuming," she said.

Pegg also said 31 businesses have taken part in DetectNWT, a COVID-19 screening program the N.W.T. government launched on Oct. 26 that allows businesses and organizations to give rapid COVID-19 tests to their employees who work with the public, even if they don't have symptoms.

So far, Pegg said more than 2,200 rapid tests have been administered.

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