First COVID-19 variants identified in Yukon

Yukon health officials say two cases COVID-19 that are variants of concern have arrived in the territory. An exposure notice was issued for an Air North flight that left Vancouver on Sunday.

Territory says it anticipated variants and is prepared to handle them

Yukon's chief medical officer confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, including the territory's first case of a 'variant of concern.' One of the affected people is a Whitehorse resident and the other is a non-Yukoner. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

The first cases of COVID-19 variants of concern have been identified in Yukon, officials said Thursday. 

Yukon's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley confirmed two new cases of COVID-19, including Yukon's first case of a "variant of concern."

The government says it anticipated it would see variants of concern, such as B117, at some point and officials are "prepared to handle it," the release states.

"We can be thankful that both of these individuals have taken the proper precautions with self-isolation, and with the quick work of Yukon Communicable Disease Control, we will be able to control these cases and prevent any spread," the Thursday news release states.

"This is a reminder that Yukoners must remain vigilant. COVID-19 is always lurking around the corner."

Yukon's 73rd case, identified Thursday, is a Yukon resident who lives in Whitehorse. This case is linked to international travel and is the territory's first new case in more than a month. 

The person followed federal processes for international arrivals, including testing for COVID-19 when they arrived in Canada.

The case is a presumptive positive for one variant of concern, the release states.

This specific variant is not yet known and will undergo further testing. The affected individual is doing well and has been in self-isolation since arriving in Yukon, the release states.

2nd new case not a Yukoner

The second case identified on Thursday is a non-Yukon resident who arrived in the territory on Sunday. The case is not considered a Yukon case, a news release states. 

Another jurisdiction contacted Yukon Communicable Disease Control and relayed that the person tested positive for B117 and is linked to an outbreak in another jurisdiction, the release states.

The individual is doing well and has been in self-isolation since arriving in Yukon. 

Exposure notices

People may have been exposed to COVID-19 if they were on Air North Flight 4N574, on Sunday March 21.

The flight departed from Vancouver to Whitehorse at 6:40 p.m. PT. 

Although officials say the risk of infection is low, anyone who was on that flight is asked to self-monitor for symptoms. All inbound travellers entering the Yukon must undergo a mandatory two-week self-isolation period. Those who experience any of the following symptoms should arrange to be tested immediately: 

  • Fever/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches

Yukon residents can get their COVID-19 vaccine at the Whitehorse Convention Centre. Walk-ins are accepted from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Written by Avery Zingel