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Some medical procedures paused for NT residents travelling to Alberta

NT residents looking to travel to Alberta for some elective procedures may be unable to do so, according to the health minister.

Health minister Julie Green issued a statement on Tuesday, saying some elective procedures for NT residents in Alberta may be altered or cancelled because of a surge of COVID-19 cases in Alberta and throughout the rest of Canada.

Alberta has the third highest rate of COVID-19 cases reported in Canada, with more than 11,000 new cases reported in the past two weeks.

Nationally, Canada saw its worst day for COVID-19 infections, reporting more 6,115 new cases  on Monday, more than double the peak during the first wave of COVID-19.

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Green adds the “longstanding agreement” between Alberta and the Northwest Territories’ health departments to allow NT residents access to healthcare services will continue.

“The agreement allows NWT residents to be considered equally to Alberta residents in terms of prioritization and access to services, and Alberta Health Services has confirmed that this relationship will continue to be honored for services provided within their facilities as we move through the evolving pandemic situation,” Green said in a statement.

NT’s health department has told health practitioners to “carefully consider” all non-urgent referrals for medical procedures in Alberta.

“If NWT residents choose not to receive services in Alberta due to COVID-19 concerns they should contact their health care provider immediately,” the statement adds. 

“Additionally, residents who receive any pushback from health providers in Alberta should contact their local health care provider immediately so they can help rectify the situation.”

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Residents who travel for medical appointments have to self-isolate when they return to the territory for 14 days.

The health department did not specify how many appointments or procedures will be cancelled or delayed, or what kinds of appointments explicitly will be cancelled or referred.

Some services, like substance abuse rehabilitation facilities, are not offered in the north. It is not clear how those services will be impacted.

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