Old Crow residents asked to isolate amid Yukon COVID-19 outbreak
Vuntut Gwitchin Government says outbreak in territory puts Old Crow at high risk
People in Yukon's northernmost community of Old Crow are being told to stay home and isolate amid an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in the territory.
The Vuntut Gwitchin Government posted a notice on its Facebook page Thursday morning, saying strict measures are required when "the spread of COVID-19 in the Yukon is so big it puts our community at risk."
"Everyone must stay home to prevent an outbreak."
Yukon's COVID-19 case count has increased by double-digits in recent days, reaching 49 confirmed active cases by Wednesday afternoon. Most cases are in Whitehorse, but health officials say some cases are in unnamed rural communities as well.
The territory's chief medical officer said Wednesday there was "widespread infection" in the territory, primarily among unvaccinated people.
Vuntut Gwitchin Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm told CBC there were no confirmed cases in his community, but said strict local measures are still necessary. He said some people have returned to Old Crow after participating in graduation events which health officials have fingered as a source of the spread.
Tizya-Tramm said the fact that grad events were permitted has "directly led to destabilizing the security in our community."
The Vuntut Gwitchin government has issued a number of public safety orders, effective Thursday morning:
- All residents must stay home and isolate until the risk level decreases.
- No travel to Old Crow without permission of chief and council.
- No gatherings allowed outside of two-household bubbles.
- Nightly curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., meaning nobody is allowed in public areas during those hours.
- Mandatory testing for anyone with two or more COVID-like symptoms.
"None of these conditions are voluntary and they can be enforced by the Summary Convictions Act with a fine or even possible jail time," said Tizya-Tramm.
"This is out of an abundance of caution."
Stay away unless necessary, says Kwanlin Dün in Whitehorse
Meantime, other Yukon First Nations have also taken action to try to contain the outbreak.
The Kwanlin Dün First Nation is asking people to stay away from the McIntyre subdivision in Whitehorse, where it is based.
In a video posted online on Wednesday, Kwanlin Dün Chief Doris Bill said there is a "small number" of confirmed cases in the McIntyre area, and that many families are now isolating because of a confirmed case involving a student from Elijah Smith Elementary School.
"We are asking people to not visit our community at this time, unless they are working or have an essential reason to be here," Bill said in the video.
"Now is not the time to invite people to your house. Now is not the time to invite people into the community. Now is not the time to have a gathering or party. Now is not the time to go house to house."
Bill said many of the First Nation's programs have been paused, events cancelled and offices closed.
"We know that this is a scary time for many people," she said.
"If you have been waiting to get those [vaccine] shots, now is the time."
With files from Julien Gignac