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Specimens to be tested for COVID-19 at LifeLabs after being logged upon receipt at the company's lab, in Surrey, B.C., on March 26, 2020. Cases of COVID-19 have more than doubled in the Northwest Territories, going from 34 cases Monday to 74 cases Tuesday night.DARRYL DYCK/The Canadian Press

A long-term care home in the Northwest Territories declared a COVID-19 outbreak Wednesday and a hard-hit community asked for policing help as cases in the territory more than doubled in 24 hours.

The N.W.T. recorded another 52 new cases Wednesday for a total of 129. That’s after posting new 74 cases Tuesday night – up from 34 a day earlier.

Two cases in Norman Wells were linked to the long-term care home, but the N.W.T.’s chief public health officer did not say whether the infections were in staff or residents.

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An outbreak is declared when one or more people who live or work in a facility develop COVID-19, Dr. Kami Kandola said.

Most of the cases were in the Sahtu region in the territory’s northwest – including 44 in Fort Good Hope where about 500 people live.

Another 19 cases were in the capital of Yellowknife farther south.

In an interview, Fort Good Hope Chief Tommy Kakfwi said the community had asked the N.W.T. government for help with policing to ensure residents comply with COVID-19 measures. He also said Fort Good Hope requested GPS spot devices for people isolating out at their camps and in isolation spaces in town.

“We’re limited here in the community. We need workers to deliver food. We need food for the elders in isolation,” he said.

A school in the community was being used as an isolation centre, as were some bed and breakfast lodgings, he added.

Kakfwi declared a local state of emergency on Monday after cases started to climb.

Kandola said earlier this week that because of wide community spread, every Fort Good Hope resident is considered to have been exposed to COVID-19.

“We’re just assuming that everybody has contact with one another, so it’s just a matter of monitoring each other,” Kakfwi said.

A rapid response team was also on the ground in the community. Tests were being done on site and confirmed in Yellowknife.

Kakfwi said two people from Fort Good Hope with COVID-19 had been medevaced out, but he wasn’t sure if they were sent to Yellowknife or to a southern hospital.

“In a situation like this, we do what we can with what we have,” he said. “We will get through this.”

The N.W.T. has issued notices of potential exposure for several flights in the territory, and says anyone who took a cab in Yellowknife since Aug. 9 needs to self-monitor for symptoms and wear a mask.

Kandola said testing is being triaged for unvaccinated people, essential workers entering the territory and people with symptoms.

Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake, another Sahtu community, are both under 10-day lockdowns to try to help stop the spread of the virus

The territory had not seen cases of COVID-19 since an outbreak at a Yellowknife school in June.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook-Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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