Two new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the N.W.T., according to health authorities, including the first case to be identified in a small community.
“These cases were confirmed in quick succession this evening,” said a statement Thursday from the office of the Chief Public Health Officer.
“Once the [office] ensured patients were notified and facts were collected, work immediately began to advise the public,” the statement says.
The cases are the third and fourth overall, and include the first outside Yellowknife and Inuvik.
Health authorities have previously said they will not identify smaller communities when cases of COVID-19 appear, citing patient privacy.
The first case involves an individual who returned from travel elsewhere in Canada on March 22. That person continued on to an unidentified small community, according to the release, despite mandatory travel restrictions put in place on March 20 requiring travellers to self-isolate in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River, or Inuvik — communities the government calls “designated isolation centres.”
Overcrowded housing and a lack of health services make smaller communities more vulnerable to community spread, according to health authorities.
Violating travel restrictions carries a maximum penalty of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for six months.
“The manner by which they were able to return to a small community and not a designated isolation centre is being investigated,” the release said.
The individual developed symptoms of COVID-19 on March 26.
“They have remained in self-isolation and continue to show symptoms,” the release says. “Public Health is working with the patient on next steps.”
The release says the individual has not had contact with others since returning to the territory.
“Investigation of contacts is ongoing, but is expected to be minimal,” it says.
The other new case is connected with an individual who travelled from Europe to Yellowknife on March 20 and voluntarily self-isolated in an unspecified location.
The individual developed symptoms five days later, the release said, and was tested soon after.
“The individual is doing well and recovering at home. There is no indication hospitalization will be required,” it reads.
The office believes this individual’s contacts were also minimal.
“This is because the individual did everything right by self-isolating immediately and limiting risk to others,” the release reads.
N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane and Dr. Kami Kandola, the chief public health officer of the Northwest Territories, will be taking calls from the public on CBC’s The Trailbreaker tomorrow morning starting after the 7:00 a.m. news. Call in at 1-800-661-0708 or (867) 920-5444 in Yellowknife.