Check against delivery
Good morning and thank you, Premier Cochrane. I would like to begin with a brief update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the Northwest Territories.
As of February 15, we have delivered 13,578 first doses and fully vaccinated 579 residents against COVID-19.
The NWT is still leading the country in the delivery of first doses. These doses are already giving strong protection to 39% of the adult population.
We are eagerly awaiting the fourth shipment of vaccine later this month. More vaccine will allow us to continue bringing first and second doses to NWT residents.
Since the beginning of our vaccine rollout, we knew that the allotment and delivery of doses were both outside of our control.
Our team has built a flexible vaccine delivery schedule to account for shipment delays, weather, or other logistical challenges.
As I’ve said before, the Federal government has remained strong in its promise to deliver enough vaccine for 75 per cent of the NWT’s eligible population by the end of March 2021.
We are grateful for the allocation of vaccine we have received so far.
We will continue to keep the public informed through weekly media briefings like this as well as communications channels online, on the radio, in print, and in person.
Residents can check the vaccine schedule at www.NTHSSA.ca/COVID-vaccine for the most up-to-date information.
We are adding dates for communities on a regular basis as vaccine supply and logistics allow.
With our current supply, we have begun delivering second doses to priority populations to our small, remote communities this week while also providing first doses to those who missed the vaccine team’s initial visit.
We are stepping up our on-the-ground communications during these second visits, especially in NWT official Indigenous languages, to ensure we are reaching as many residents as possible.
In order to help NWT residents feel comfortable and informed about what to expect during the COVID-19 vaccine clinics, we are also launching a new video series this week that features Tłı̨chǫ Nurse Leanne Mantla and her mother, elder Rose Mantla.
Both Leanne and Rose are experienced health care workers from the NWT whose trusted voices explain what to expect before, during, and after the clinic arrives in each community.
Residents will be able to find these videos in English, French, and Tłı̨chǫ on the GNWT Corporate Facebook pages, or on the COVID-19 website.
On that website the public will find wastewater test results. The GNWT has updated the COVID-19 dashboard to display wastewater results by community and include all results from the time sampling started.
There are currently six NWT communities where wastewater surveillance is being conducted: Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik, Norman Wells and Yellowknife.
The Chief Public Health Officer has implemented a wastewater surveillance program in these communities to help detect the presence of COVID-19. Testing wastewater is a cost-effective way to test for the virus and an early warning system to detect COVID-19 in our communities.
The program will be in place for the next six to 18 months depending on the status of the pandemic and the role this surveillance activity has in informing the response by public health. This testing is a collaboration between community governments, and the departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Municipal and Community Affairs, Health and Social Services, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, including the National Microbiology Laboratory.
I’d now like to make a few more points about where we are at with COVID-19.
First, I’d like to acknowledge how much NWT residents have sacrificed in the last 11 months to protect our territory from COVID-19.
As March Break nears, I know many would like to travel outside the territory.
Transmission rates across Canada are still high and the impact of variants is alarming because they are more infectious than the original strain. As a result, non-essential travel outside the territory is still not recommended right now.
Let’s take this time to see how much there is to do right here in the NWT.
Get out on the land. Go skating. Go cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing, and snowshoeing.
If you must travel, awareness is key.
There are currently significant outbreaks in many areas where NWT residents would routinely travel for medical or other reasons.
Knowing the COVID-19 situation in your destination before you travel will allow you to make informed decisions about your own health and safety.
Residents can find travel advice and more information about COVID-19 hotspots in nearby regions and the rest of Canada on the GNWT covid website.
So far, the COVID-19 cases within our own territory have been contained because Northerners are taking the proper steps to keep their communities safe.
But, we have seen how quickly one case can become an outbreak.
We must continue to follow the guidance that has kept us safe these past 11 months.
Keep gatherings small and spaces large; Practice physical distancing and stay six feet or two metres apart; Wash your hands and do it a lot; Keep sneezing and coughing to yourself; Wear a mask to help keep you and others safe; and get get tested and stay home if you are feeling sick.
Together, we can defeat COVID-19. Thank you.