North

Yukon gov't minister self-isolates, gets tested for COVID-19

Yukon government Minister Ranj Pillai is being tested for COVID-19 and has self-isolated, amid concerns about his attendance at a mining conference in Toronto last week.

Premier says move is being done 'out of an abundance of caution,' and urged calm

Ranj Pillai, Yukon's minister of economic development and minister of Energy, Mines, and Resources, has self-isolated and is being tested for COVID-19. Premier Sandy Silver says it's being done out of 'an abundance of caution.' (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

Yukon government minister Ranj Pillai is being tested for COVID-19 and has self-isolated, amid concerns about his attendance at a mining conference in Toronto last week.

In a written statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said the move was being done "out of an abundance of caution," and urged Yukoners to remain calm and continue to follow the advice of medical professionals.

On Wednesday, health officials in Sudbury, Ontario, confirmed that city's first case of COVID-19, and said the man had attended the Prospectors, Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference on March 2 and 3 in Toronto. The event attracts thousands of delegates every year — including many Northerners.

Pillai, who is Yukon's minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, attended this year. So did Silver, who tweeted a picture of himself at the conference, looking on as Pillai shook hands with the prime minister.

In Nunavut, seven government employees attended the PDAC conference and are now staying home as a precaution. The government of Nunavut says the risk is minimal, as none of the seven employees have reported any symptoms.

In the N.W.T., territorial government staff who attended PDAC received an email recommending they go home for the day and allow time for a proper risk assessment.

The N.W.T.'s chief medical officer of health is recommending delegates to PDAC monitor themselves for 14 days to see if they develop flu-like symptoms and report to a health official if they notice them.

Silver to skip First Ministers' meeting

In his statement on Wednesday, Silver also said he would not be attending the First Ministers' meeting this week in Ottawa.

"Prior to making this decision I took into account the advice of the chief medical officer of health (CMOH) and my attendance at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual conference earlier this month," Silver's statement reads.

"In making this decision, the CMOH and I considered what might happen if I needed to self-isolate outside of the Yukon and the impacts that would have. At this time, I feel my efforts are needed here at home."

Silver called his decision to stay home precautionary, and "an extremely rare situation."

'At this time, I feel my efforts are needed here at home,' says Premier Sandy Silver, who's not attending this week's First Ministers' meeting in Ottawa. (Wayne Vallevand/CBC)

He also asserted that the risk for COVID-19 in Yukon and Canada remains low, and said Yukon's medical system is well-prepared. 

There have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Yukon.

In a written update issued earlier Wednesday afternoon, Yukon's deputy chief medical officer of health said there have been "many questions from Yukoners today who attended, live closely with, or work with someone who attended" PDAC.

Dr. Catherine Elliot said Yukoners at the conference may have been exposed to COVID-19, but advised people without symptoms to carry on normal day-to-day activities. 

She said people who have no symptoms cannot pass COVID-19 on to others.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include cough, fever or shortness of breath. Elliott says people who exhibit any of those symptoms should stay home and call 1-867-667-8323 to arrange for testing.

 

Written by Paul Tukker

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