Relaxing Phase 4: Final Measures Lifted

Last modified: 
Tue, 05/26/2020 - 13:59

Final removal of measures

All remaining public health measures may be lifted if the following requirements are met:

  • A vaccine for COVID-19 has been approved and produced
    • A successful vaccination program has been implemented for the following populations:
      • Seniors
      • Those with compromised immune systems due to other diseases
      • Those who already have long-term illnesses
  • If an effective treatment is approved and production capacity reaches the point where a large portion of our population could access it, public health measures may also be lifted. ƒƒ

Note: there are currently no approved treatments for COVID-19

Re-implementing measures

There are expected to be two-to-three waves of COVID-19 infections – meaning across Canada, there will likely be more surges in cases.

To maintain containment in the NWT, we will need to be nimble enough to be able to move from less restrictive measures back to more restrictive ones very quickly. Residents should understand that this is likely to be required.

Once measures have begun to be eased, there are few scenarios where we would consider going back to the aggressive containment stage we are in today.

Triggers for moving back in our phases

There are several situations which would trigger consideration of taking steps back between phases three and one:

  • Cases resulting from breached protocols
    This could include non-resident, non-exempted travelers who make their way into the territory and import additional cases of COVID-19 which has led to community spread.
  • Evidence of community spread where the source could not be tracked
    A breakdown in contact tracing may necessitate a move back to stronger measures.
  • Cluster outbreaks
    Cluster refers to lot of cases grouped in one place within a very short period of time. These kinds of outbreaks present a very high-risk to communities and additional restrictions are required to effectively manage them.

Triggers for returning to aggressive containment measures

If the risk of spread of COVID-19 remains high across Canada, the following events could trigger a return to the territory’s most aggressive measures:

  • Failure of travel restrictions
    If for any reason, there are catastrophic failures in our travel restrictions and public health measures protecting against the risk of exposure from travel into the territory, containment would be again considered.
  • Loss of contact tracing capabilities
    If public health staff are overwhelmed by extreme outbreaks and are no longer able to effectively track contacts, the territory and its health system would be left at extremely high-risk.
  • Health system breakdown
    If the health system is strained and effective service delivery has become impossible due to a surge, containment may again be considered.

The GNWT will do everything in its power to avoid these scenarios.

Regional and community response

Depending on how the virus advances within the NWT, consideration may be given to region and community-specific measures so freedoms may be maintained in parts of the territory not judged to be at-risk.

Measures which could be used for such a response include:

  • Inter-community travel restrictions
    To isolate communities or regions where outbreaks may be occurring.
  • Prioritized testing and isolation in communities with outbreaks
    Focused testing efforts can help public health staff gets a good picture of how the virus is moving in a community, and allow for fast isolation to separate those who are healthy from those who are not.

Implementation

Each step within each phase will require considerable changes for organizations and individuals affected.

Many of these changes and approaches to mitigation are outlined in the public health risk assessment found in Appendix A of the Emerging Wisely Document.

Links to additional resources on implementation are also included. Additional public health guidance and awareness materials will be developed and distributed by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer, in partnership with other government and non-government agencies.