NWT Legislative Assembly met this morning (April 22nd) in what is to be a weekly COVID-19 Response-Accountability Briefing.
NWT Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO) joined the Minister of Health and Social Services, her Deputy Minister as well as NWT Medical Director in providing an update on the territorial efforts to fight and contain the spread of COVID-19.
Diane Thom’s opening remarks stressed how the NWT’s decisive measures to protect public health resulted in the NWT being one of the few jurisdictions across the globe to get a chance at the containment of the virus.
Nevertheless she notes that cases across Canada and especially our neighbors to the South in British Columbia and Alberta continue to face community spread and have not gotten to containment till today.
Dr. Kami Kandola outlined why in spite of our recent recoveries it is not yet time to ease these measures that we currently have in place because it’s these measures that are protecting us from the surges in our hospitals.
A surge that she says could threaten our communities and put vulnerable folks like elders and those with pre existing conditions in trouble.
Kandola believes it’s these measures that will mitigate the second and third waves of COVID-19 that most experts believe would happen before we get a vaccine.
As such she is preparing to issue an amendment to her March 21st order that will be coming out later this week.
The amended COVID-19 Travel Restrictions & Self-isolation Protocol will put in place compliance requirements for essential service workers, those supporting essential service workers, those working on public construction projects including corrections officers.
These were mainly persons exempted from restrictions under the March 21 version of the order.
This will require these groups of people to self isolate at reentry. As well as leave contact information with authorities and wear personal protective equipment in public settings.
Those unable to self-isolate because of the nature of their essential service will be required to remain in self isolation when not on the job.
Kandola says with these measures in place in addition to increased testing efforts as well as expected rapid testing kits there would still be a ways to go.
She says NWT residents may be looking at a very slow and graduated lifting of some measures in about One month to 1.5 months if public health orders are strictly followed.
In doing so Dr. Kandola hopes to eliminate both the chance of importing new cases into the territory and the possibility of community spread if cases do occur.