Federal government sends more aid to Northwest Territories to deal with COVID-19 outbreak

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Federal government sends more aid to Northwest Territories to cope with spike in COVID-19 cases.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said Ottawa had approved a request from the territory to provide “surge capacity support” for infection prevention and control, contact tracing and testing.

The support – 10 specialists from the Canadian Red Cross – will be effective until November 14, with the possibility of an extension of two weeks.

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This is in addition to previous assistance provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada for infection control and contact tracing.

After months of zero new COVID-19 cases, the territory began to see a spike in cases in mid-August.

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

Earlier Monday, the government of the NWT announced that as of November 30, all of its employees will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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

The territory’s finance minister, Caroline Wawzonek, explained in a press release that the change was necessary because of the impact the epidemic has had since the policy was initially considered.

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

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He also noted that unions, Indigenous governments and others were consulted during the drafting of the policy.

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