Feds sending 10 Canadian Red Cross specialists to NWT amid COVID-19 surge

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The federal government is sending more help to the Northwest Territories to deal with the spike in COVID-19 cases.

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Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says Ottawa has approved a request from the region to provide “increased capacity support” for infection prevention and control, contact tracing and testing.

The support – 10 experts from the Canadian Red Cross – will be in effect until November 14, with the possibility of a two-week extension.


This is on top of previous assistance provided through the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada for infection control and contact tracing.

After months of zero new cases of COVID-19, the region saw a spike in cases in mid-August.

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As of Monday, there were 263 active cases in the Northwest Territories, which last week extended a region-wide public health emergency to October 26.

The NWT government announced earlier on Monday that by November 30, all of its employees would be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Earlier, the policy applied only to government employees working with vulnerable populations.

The region’s finance minister, Carolyn Wavzonk, explained in a news release that the change was necessary because of the impact of the outbreak since the policy was initially considered.

The accommodation of the policy for medical reasons or on grounds protected under the Human Rights Act will be considered on a case-by-case basis, the release said.

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It also noted that unions, indigenous governments and others were consulted in the drafting of the policy.

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