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Caroline Cochrane: COVID-19 Update

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — May 3, 2021

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Good morning. Thank you for being here today. With me I have Health and Social Services Minister Julie Green, Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola, and Territorial Medical Director Dr. AnneMarie Pegg.

The last few days have been what we have been preparing for as a territory since the beginning of the pandemic. As we have watched the third wave of COVID-19 challenge our neighbours to the south, and sadly, in recent weeks, our Northern neighbours in Yukon and Nunavut, it was inevitable that we would see our cases rise.

The situation in Yellowknife is fluid, and we don’t have all the answers yet. When we have new information to share, we are committed to keeping residents informed. Our health care professionals at the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer and the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, as well as staff in the COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat have been working day and night to contain the virus.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, safety and preparedness have been our top priorities, and continues to be today as we deal with our second outbreak in a community. We have spent the last 14 months understanding the best practices for dealing with an outbreak. We have strong processes in place for managing this situation – especially in our school system where fulsome procedures have been implemented to protect our students, teachers, and anyone in the education system.

The decision of the Chief Public Health Officer to close all schools in Yellowknife was out of an abundance of caution. It was a decision meant to ensure that the spread was contained and to not take any unnecessary risks that further jeopardize the health of our residents.

COVID-19 is spread by extended contact with infectious individuals and Public Health is following up with known contacts of the people who have tested positive. If Public Health has not actively reached out to you, you have not been identified as a contact of a case of COVID-19. Where the OCPHO is not able to identify all contacts, it is providing public exposure notifications so people can identify themselves as possibly being exposed. This list will be updated if further exposures are identified.

Please be aware that if Public Health has not been in contact to ask that you be tested, and you do not have symptoms, there is no reason to be tested at this time. If you have been contacted by Public Health or have symptoms, please get tested. It’s important we allow Public Health to do their jobs and focus on the areas of concern at this time.

There is going to be a lot of speculation and rumours over the next few days. It’s important you get your information from reputable sources. Rumours and incorrect information only make it more difficult for health officials to respond to this situation. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the GNWT’s COVID-19 response website.

I know this is a difficult and uncertain time. But it’s important we all remain calm and committed to following the Public Health Orders and recommendations. We need to help support our community members who are now isolating, so if you know someone please reach out and check in on them. Northerners are known for their sense of community, so let’s make sure we show that in the coming days and weeks.

As I’ve said many times before, if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please book your appointment. We all need to do our part to protect our communities, and this is one of the best ways for each of us to contribute to that effort.

I’d now like to turn it over to Minister Green. Thank you.