City steps up health safety measures as coronavirus fears grow

Events, programs and services won't be cancelled as city monitors threat

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The City of Yellowknife says its taking special measures to keep residents healthy amid growing fears surrounding the spread of COVID-19, but there are no plans to cancel events, services or programs.

Facing an evolving and and rapidly-spreading virus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this week, the city says it’s beefing up health safety measures at city facilities and workplaces through “increased cleaning and sanitizing efforts” led by staff and janitorial contractors.

There are no COVID-19 cases in the NWT, or in any of the territories. The first and only Canadian COVID-19 death was reported in B.C. on Monday.

Based on current recommendations from NWT Chief Medical Health Officer Kami Kandola, the city says it won’t be cancelling any events, programs or services at this time.

Concerns around COVID-19 led to the first-ever cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games, which was set to see international athletes compete in Whitehorse, over the weekend.
“The city will continue to engage with (Kandola) .. and monitor the situation closely,” states the news release.

In the meantime, the city says it will be working alongside partners while following the territorial government’s lead to “mitigate impacts and ensure continuity of local essential services.”

The city is asking residents to do their own part to curb risks posed by the respiratory virus.

Yellowknifers are urged to practice proper and frequent hand washing. If unwell, stay home from work, says the city.

Mayor Rebecca Alty encouraged residents to remain informed while doing their part to keep themselves, their family and the community as whole healthy.

“As Yellowknifers, we help one another and look out for each other,” stated Alty in Thursday’s news release.

Sporting and cultural events across the globe have been cancelled or postponed in recent days as health officials and governments grapple with the threat of COVID-19.

NNSL Media reported earlier this week that organizers behind Snowking’s Winter Festival and the Long John Jamboree are not planning on pulling the plug on the events over COVID-19 worries, based on current recommendations from Kandola.

Folk on the Rocks released a statement Thursday, with organizers saying the July musical festival will go ahead as planned.

Health experts worldwide have stepped up calls for social distancing and recommend avoiding large crowds and non-essential travel.

For Yellowknifers looking to adhere to this advice, Alty said residents can access the city’s online Virtual City Hall and eServices to make payments and register for programs.

In Alberta, where 19 cases have been confirmed, the government moved to shut down all large gatherings on Thursday.

As of today, 138 COVID-19 have been confirmed in Canada.

Worldwide, 134,475 cases have been confirmed, with 4,970 recorded deaths, according to WHO.

Kandola says the risks for NWT residents remain low – an assessment echoed by Health Canada for Canadians in general.

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.

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