Yukon has 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the 1st in the territory

The Yukon government has confirmed the territory's first 2 cases of COVID-19.

Whitehorse couple who attended U.S. convention tested positive once home

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver, with Dr. Brendan Hanley, left, chief medical officer and Dr. Catherine Elliot, announce the first 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the territory, Sunday. (Steve Silva/CBC)

Yukon has two confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the territory's first — according to health officials. 

At a news conference Sunday evening, Yukon's chief medical officer, Brendan Hanley, said a Whitehorse couple has tested positive for the coronavirus. They had travelled to the U.S. to attend a convention. Later, they were notified there was a COVID-19 case at the convention.

The couple did not experience symptoms until they returned. Once home, he said the couple did everything correctly. They isolated themselves and sought medical advice.

They were tested for COVID-19 after they developed symptoms. Hanley said the results came back three days later, on Sunday.

"They're meticulously following public health advice, and they were from the beginning," Hanley said.

Hanley said the two individuals have mild cases, and are both doing well. He said they are still self-isolating, and health officials are working to determine who they may have been in contact with since returning home.

As of Sunday, the government's website said 418 tests for COVID-19 had been conducted on individuals in Yukon, with results still pending on 172 of them.

Yukoners asked to return home 

Hanley also introduced new measures on Sunday night aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. 

Among the measures:

  • A recommended suspension of all non-essential travel into and out of Yukon
  • Yukoners planning to return home in next 30 days are advised to return home immediately, and self-isolate for 14 days
  • Yukoners are advised to suspend all non-essential travel to rural communities
  • bars to close Sunday night, until further notice
  • restaurants to reduce seating by 50 per cent, and, as of Thursday, offer only take-out and delivery
  • hair salons, barber shops, massage therapists, tattoo parlors, nail salons, to close Wednesday
  • gatherings of more than 10 people banned
  • Yukoners with any flu-like symptoms should not attend social gatherings.

Hanley said the new measures were scheduled to be announced Monday, and were not a direct response to the two confirmed cases.

Travel restricted between Yukon, Alaska

Officials have been steadily introducing new decrees and recommendations in recent days to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

On Friday, all non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. was restricted, including between Yukon and Alaska.

According to the Yukon government, essential travel would include U.S. citizens seeking certain services in Yukon, such as emergency medical and dental care, automobile repair, veterinary care, groceries and medicine. There are also exemptions for people crossing the border for work, including emergency response personnel. 

Premier Sandy Silver, speaking at Sunday's new conference, called the territory's first confirmed cases "troubling, but not unexpected."

Silver thanked the affected couple for doing all the right things. "By following the guidelines of self-isolation, they reduced the spread of the virus," Silver said.

"Now it is on us, each and every one of us as Yukoners, to take this situation even more seriously."

With files from Steve Silva