Diane Thom: COVID-19, Media Briefing Statement

Yellowknife — March 13, 2020
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

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Good afternoon. We all know in the coming weeks that there will be new challenges presented here in the Northwest Territories, both for our residents and for the health care system. I want to assure you that we are prepared, and are continuing to prepare.

Knowing that our health system faces unique challenges in the North, we’ve been at an active state of readiness for weeks. We’ve been making necessary preparations to address a surge in the number of NWT residents needing to receive health services in the coming weeks and months because of COVID-19.

We have also been carrying out comprehensive public health surveillance measures, at times going above and beyond what was being recommended by the federal government. This is because we know our best defence in managing the COVID-19 situation is in doing all we can to reduce the likelihood of having it transmitted in our communities.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the dedication and professionalism of the frontline and support staff of the health and social services system. I know staff are strongly committed to ensuring the health of NWT residents. And I know we’ll soon be entering a time when, over coming weeks and months, we will need to call upon staff to continue to support the health system and the delivery of health services to residents, in ways that will require new levels of sacrifice when it comes to work-life balance and spending time with family and friends.

I want to reassure residents that the risk of getting COVID-19 in the NWT is low at this time. However, in the coming weeks and months, I would like to call on the media to support the health system by playing a key role in helping residents stay up to date on the latest and accurate health information provided by our Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Kami Kandola.