North Wright Airways has cancelled flights into Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake, as COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise throughout the territory, especially in the Sahtu region.
The cancellation takes effect today and will be reviewed around August 30.
In a statement, company president Travis Wright said flights into Délı̨nę and Tulita may be “cancelled on short notice and flight frequency may be reduced significantly.”
A State of Emergency was declared in communities in the Sahtu region on August 18, meaning non-essential travel would be barred. The company said mail, cargo and charters for medical travel would still be happening on an as needed basis.
The COVID-19 case count continues to rise in the NWT, with 129 active cases now confirmed, stemming from the outbreak at the traditional games tournament held from August 5 to 9 in Fort Good Hope, which NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola described as a “super-spreader event.”
The Tłı̨chǫ government recently discouraged residents from returning to their communities if they were at an exposure risk location.
On Monday, NWT’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola said it’s unlikely an outright travel ban would be implemented because healthcare workers and supplies like food will still need to be sent to the communities.
The territory’s Chief Medical Doctor Dr. AnneMarie Pegg said the GWNT was looking at arranging travel to move some at-risk individuals out of their communities. That would happen in consultation with community leadership.
“We do have a limited number of resources that are involved in [medevac services] and the best time to transport someone is before they can become quite sick,” she said.
“That’s also the job of our team on the ground who has been conducting active surveillance of the cases that have been identified as positive to assess for any deterioration in their condition.”
The GNWT also made masks mandatory for airport staff and are recommending travellers wear masks while they’re inside the airport.