(October 08, 2021, Fort Smith) - As cases are found in communities that have limited experience with COVID-19 we often see an initial wave of concern. Concern is warranted; COVID-19 spreads quickly and is often invisible. This is a time for caution, not panic. The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority want to remind residents that our focus is on the health and wellness of residents and that we achieve this through our core activities of: testing, tracing, and isolating cases of COVID-19.
In Fort Smith we are actively investigating all cases, providing easy and quick access to testing, and ensuring everyone who may be at exposure risk is contacted directly and given appropriate advice on isolation.
It is important to know that our public health team’s work within a well-defined process for contact tracing. In cases where we are confident there is a known set of contacts we work to contact individuals directly and provide advice regarding self-monitoring, testing, and isolation where required. If there is ever an exposure event that may impact a broader swath of the public and we think there are people we can’t easily identify we the Chief Public Health Officer will issue a public exposure notice, which can be found online here.
We cannot, and do not, release specific details about individuals to ensure their private health information is protected. We are responding and will continue to monitor cases. Please note that we will communicate when we have information we need the public to act on, this communication will come to individuals directly from our public health teams and to the broader community from the Chief Public Health Officer or from the health centre if required. Local health and social services resources are focused on direct care and services. We encourage residents to visit the GNWT COVID-19 website for general information, and to look for public announcements as required. Please do not call the health centre for general info or to inquire about specific cases as it ties up valuable resources we need to respond to testing, tracing, and case investigations to ensure appropriate isolation of exposed or positive individuals.
It is also important to be kind, both to staff, others, and those who do contract COVID-19. Pointing fingers or singling out individuals is not productive; and in fact may do harm if people fear coming forward for testing because of community backlash.
While we work hard to test, trace, and isolate cases, we also want to remind residents that personal responsibility has a large part to play in managing COVID-19. Each person contributes to their own level of risk, and has the ability to reduce risk. Follow healthy habits, be sure to get tested if you get sick, limit gatherings and contacts, think twice about travel to locations with high COVID case counts, and if you have not already; get vaccinated as it is the best protection we have. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, it helps reduce spread, and it is very effective at preventing sever outcomes and hospitalizations.
Be safe. Be kind. We will get through this together.
In the meantime the following resources may be helpful: