Check against delivery
Good morning and thank you, Premier Cochrane.
I would like to start off this morning by recognizing that the past couple of weeks have been difficult ones for NWT residents, particularly for Yellowknifers. Just as we were preparing to relax some of the public health measures, we had an increase in cases including the first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 UK variant.
As a result, some Yellowknifers are concerned and anxious. That’s understandable. If that’s you, please hear me when I say anxiety in our current situation is natural. There is, however, no need to be scared. Our government and the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer are ready to react to an increase of cases. We are prepared for it and we know what we have to do to ensure that our friends, family and communities remain safe. You are in good hands with my staff and we will get through this together.
The best thing to do right now is to stick to the public health measures we know work to stop COVID-19 transmission and follow the guidance to bring the situation under control. Never has wearing a mask in public been so important or to follow isolation protocols.
The other thing within our control is to get vaccinated.
We continue to see a lull in our vaccine uptake and I want to take this opportunity to urge anyone who has not yet received the vaccine, or anyone due for their second dose, to contact their local health provider or health centre to find out how to access it.
The GNWT is close to finalizing an exchange of vaccine with other provinces to acquire the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is currently approved for those 16 years of age and older, and is expected to expand to those aged 12-15 in the near future, allowing for greater vaccine coverage.
Introducing a second product into the NWT’s inventory will allow for more a more flexible, sustainable, and reliable COVID-19 vaccine program. Once the exchange is finalized, the details will be formally announced and information will be posted to the NTHSSA social media and website.
We need everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated, so we can get back to doing the things we love in our communities.
Over the next few days, the situation in Yellowknife will continue to unfold in rapid and unpredictable ways. You will continue to have questions and we are committed to ensuring you get the information you need as quickly as possible.
I also want to emphasize that in spite of the cases announced over the weekend, there isn’t necessarily a risk to you going about your daily business. Unless Public Health staff have reached out to you directly or has released a public exposure notice about a place you have been, there is no reason to jump to the conclusion you are at risk. Public Health staff are doing the risk-analysis work and are contacting people who may be affected as soon as possible, as well as providing information on what you should be doing to stay safe.
I want to thank Yellowknifers for staying calm through this uncertain time and following the guidance of the Chief Public Health Officer. Dr Kandola has had to make some tough decisions over the past few days, decisions I know will keep us safe. I support those decisions. A lot is being asked of all of us now, but I am confident that together we will get through this and we will be stronger for it.
Continue to keep gatherings small and spaces large, practice physical distancing, wear your mask, stay home, get tested if you are feeling sick, and get vaccinated to protect yourself and others against COVID-19.
I would now like to invite Dr. Kandola to provide some detailed remarks about the Public Health Advisories that have been released over the past few days.