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'More tools in the toolbox': Yukon declares state of emergency over COVID-19 pandemic

The Yukon government has declared a state of emergency in the territory. Premier Sandy Silver made the announcement at a public briefing on Friday afternoon.

Medical officer of health announces fourth confirmed case on Friday afternoon

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver declares a civil state of emergency in Yukon related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mar. 27, 2020. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

The Yukon government has declared a state of emergency in the territory, as the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to tick upward.

Premier Sandy Silver, alongside chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced the emergency at a press briefing on Friday afternoon.

Silver said the declaration, under the Civil Emergency Measures Act, allows the territorial government to take quicker action to try and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"This does not indicate an increased level of risk in our territory. Rather, it prepares the government for what the needs will be in the days and weeks ahead," Silver said.

"Essentially, the government will be empowered to do all things considered advisable [in] dealing with this emergency."

Watch Friday's news conference here:

 

Also on Friday, Dr. Brendan Hanley, chief medical officer of health,  announced a fourth confirmed case of COVID-19 in Yukon.

He said the person from Whitehorse was a "close contact" of another person who had previously tested positive for the disease. Hanley said the fourth person has mild symptoms and is recovering at home.

Hanley said the new case was expected, and he suggested that there may be more confirmed cases before the weekend is over.

'Tools in the toolbox'

Under the Civil Emergency Measures Act, an emergency declaration allows a government to do those things "considered advisable" for, among other things:

  • protection of persons and property
  • clearing and controlling use of roads
  • requisitioning and distributing food, clothing, accommodation or other services
  • assisting in law enforcement
  • protecting health, safety and welfare of residents

It also allows the government to make regulations for a civil emergency plan.

Silver did not specify what specific actions the government is considering under the emergency declaration. He said it was about "preparation."

"We now have more tools in the toolbox," he said. 

Last week, officials declared a public health emergency in Yukon related to COVID-19. Hanley called Friday's more sweeping declaration a "welcome complement" to the earlier one.

On Thursday, the territorial government issued a notice that identified two places in Whitehorse where people may have been exposed to the virus on certain days in the last few weeks. They advised people who may have been at either Bethany Church or Elias Dental, on certain dates, to monitor themselves for any symptoms of COVID-19.

The territorial government posts data online that tells how many Yukoners have been tested and are still awaiting results.

As of Friday, the website said 603 people had been tested and results were pending on 43 of them.

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