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Yukon premier warns 'second wave of COVID-19 is reaching the territories'

During the territorial government's weekly pandemic update Tuesday, officials also confirmed that all cases to date have been linked to travel outside the territory, while Yukon's bubble with B.C. will remain.

Officials say all the territory's cases to date are linked to travel, while B.C. bubble remains

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley at a COVID-19 update in Whitehorse in on May. (Alistair Maitland/Government of Yukon)

Yukon officials are warning that a second wave of COVID-19 is reaching the territories, with recent spikes in cases across the country.

During the territorial government's weekly pandemic update Tuesday, officials confirmed that all cases to date have been linked to travel outside the territory, while Yukon's bubble with B.C. will remain.

The most recent case of the virus announced on Thursday, was out of Whitehorse. It brought the territory's total case count to 24 since the onset of the pandemic.

"The new case, combined with the dramatic increase in cases in Nunavut in the past week, is a stark reminder that we are still in the grips of this pandemic and things can change very quickly," said Premier Sandy Silver on Tuesday.

Silver said the territory has laid two additional charges in the past week under the civil emergencies act, both for the failure to self-isolate as required.

"Canada's second wave of COVID-19 is reaching the territories, and we need to make sure that we're doing everything we can to protect our communities," Silver said.

He is encouraging people to get their flu shots and to continue practicing distancing and sanitization measures.

Missed the Yukon government update? Watch it here:

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon's chief medical officer, said Tuesday that with cases surging around the country this week, "it almost seems like we are in the eye of some huge global COVID[-19] cyclone."

All cases linked to travel, B.C. bubble remains

As of Tuesday morning, the territorial government's website says there are 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Yukon, with 22 of them recovered. 

Hanley said Tuesday that there has been "an additional recent case" of COVID-19 confirmed in the territory, but it will be counted toward the individual's home jurisdiction. The person is self-isolating and recovering well, he said, and contact tracing has taken place.

"We remain fortunate that all our cases to date are linked to travel and we continue to have no evidence of community spread," said Hanley.

He said that while the territory remains bubbled with British Columbia, Yukoners must follow proper precautions and self-monitor for 14 days after returning.

"We have not had a documented Yukon case that has been directly related to the B.C. bubble," Hanley said.

Yukon Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley at a government news conference in Whitehorse in August. (Government of Yukon/Alistair Maitland)

In B.C., case numbers are on the rise with the vast majority of new cases coming in the Lower Mainland. Health officials said Monday that 1,959 cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths were recorded in B.C. over a three-day period.

"Before you travel to anywhere in B.C. you need to take the proper precautions and make sure you are following the orders imposed while you are visiting," said Hanley.

Silver said Tuesday he has been in touch with his provincial, territorial and federal counterparts to prepare for a vaccine, while "plans for the territory are already underway."

On Monday, there was promising news about a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Moderna, a vaccine among those Canada has preordered for its population, said its vaccine appears to be 94.5 per cent effective, according to preliminary data from the company's still-ongoing study.

Last week, the territorial government said an investigation into the latest case was underway and the Yukon Communicable Disease Centre had reached most of the contacts. Hanley confirmed Tuesday that the case was related to travel outside of the territory.

It asked people who have been at the following locations and who have symptoms to get tested:

  • Save-On-Foods, Whitehorse, before 1 p.m. on Nov. 6.
  • A&W restaurant, Whitehorse, between 3 and 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8.

People with symptoms, even mild, should get tested. They can also use the self-assessment tool on the Yukon government's webpage as a guide or call 811.

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