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Wastewater testing in Yellowknife finds traces of COVID-19

Wastewater testing samples have found traces of COVID-19 in Yellowknife, according to a statement from the Chief Public Health Officer.

Dr. Kami Kandola, NWT’s CPHO, said in a statement residents who have arrived in Yellowknife and been self-isolating since November 30 should get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible, even if you don’t have symptoms.

While not confirmed, Kandola said the wastewater sample detecting traces of COVID-19 means it is likely there is an undetected case of COVID-19 in Yellowknife. The statement added there is not currently enough information to assess the level of public risk.

“It is possible that this signal is from one or more individuals who have travelled and who are now appropriately self-isolating, or have even left the territory,” said Kandola.

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“But it is also possible that COVID-19 has been transmitted to others.”

The territory is asking for public help identifying the COVID-19 case.

The recommendation does not apply to highly essential workers without symptoms who have already been tested as a requirement receive their exemption. Those workers should follow their employer’s guidelines.

Those who are self-isolating because someone else in the household has travelled should continue self-isolating. They do not need to get tested unless they develop symptoms.

Hay River was the fifth community who had wastewater sampling equipment installed. This is not the first time wastewater sampling has detected traces of COVID-19. Kandola said traces of the virus were found in Fort Smith’s wastewater sampling when it had five confirmed COVID-19 cases.

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“This allows public health to take wastewater results which are out-of-the-ordinary, and target proactive surveillance on those who have recently travelled to identify other cases of COVID-19,” Kandola added.

Correction: A previous version of this story said wastewater sampling had not returned any positive traces prior to the Yellowknife traces. New information from the CPHO said this was incorrect and wastewater sampling had found traces of COVID-19 in Fort Smith.

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