Caroline Cochrane: First Confirmed Case of COVID-19 in the NWT - March 21, 2020 News Conference

Yellowknife — March 21, 2020
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Good afternoon. Late last night our public health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories.

 

This is hard news to share and I want to express my concern and sympathy for the people affected by this and let them know that the Government of the Northwest Territories is going to do everything we can to support them in this difficult time.

 

To the people of the Northwest Territories, I want to say that we knew this day would come and the GNWT has been working hard so that we would be prepared when it did.

 

We know there are simple and effective steps that we can all take to help slow down and limit the spread of this virus in our communities.

 

Slowing the spread will give our medical officials like Dr. Kandola the time they need to keep planning and managing our response so we can help protect residents and communities.

 

Slowing the spread will also ensure our health care system is not flooded with a large wave of sick people all at once. This will be crucial to maintaining our capacity to care for and treat the people who do get sick.

 

This is why the Government of the Northwest Territories began its own preparations weeks before a pandemic was declared, and this has enabled us to take the right measures to respond to COVID-19.

 

We have taken strong actions to prepare already and we are going to continue to take strong action to protect all our residents.

 

This confirmed case is being investigated thoroughly. We are in the process tracing contacts and doing everything in our capacity to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the NWT.

We want to reassure the public that we are taking all appropriate measures to keep the residents and communities of the NWT safe. Efforts that began weeks ago will continue as we move forward with these challenges.

I commend the healthcare providers and front line service staff across the NWT for their commitment and dedication to keeping residents of the NWT safe.   I also want to thank the many businesses who have stepped up to help keep our supply chains flowing such as grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.  I want to thank those who have helped to ensure food is being delivered to our elderly and homeless and who have gone out of their way to help others in our communities.  I also want to remind everyone that we need to work together if we are going to combat this.  The best chance we have to make a difference is to follow the advice of the Chief Public Health officer. 

If you are sick, stay home. Continue to practice social distancing and wash your hands.   By all of us working together, we will make a difference in how COVID-19 impacts our own families, our neighbours and all residents of the NWT.

I will now hand this over to the Minister of Health, Diane Thom.