Yukon top doc expects more COVID-19 hospitalizations within 'days to week'

Yukon's top doctor said based on the trend in cases and what is known about the impact of the Omicron variant in other parts of the country, "we can begin to understand what might happen in the Yukon" - more people getting sick and more hospitalizations.

On Wednesday, there were 70 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, putting the active case count to 471

Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical officer of health, left, and Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee. Elliott said she expects more COVID-19 illnesses and hospitalizations within 'days to week’ based on the current case trend and what's happening in the rest of the country. (CBC)

Yukon's top doctor said Wednesday that based on the trend in cases and what is known about the impact of the Omicron COVID-19 variant in other parts of the country, "we can begin to understand what might happen in the Yukon." And that is likely more people getting sick and more hospitalizations.

Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical officer of health, made the comments during a COVID-19 news conference on Wednesday, where she was joined by Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

"This is the closest I get to a crystal ball," Elliott said.

"At this time, based on this, I anticipate we'll continue to see a number of people off work due to illness and isolation and a number of more people continuing to get sick. I'll also expect that we'll see more people requiring hospitalization in the next days to week."

As of Wednesday, there are two people hospitalized with COVID-19.

In the event the territory's hospitals become full, Elliott said the options include expanding the hospitalization capacity in Yukon, exploring the possibility of bringing in healthcare workers from other places, and exploring further options for moving patients to other places to get the care they need.

"These are all the options that we will consider at that time," she said, adding there are plans in place with Yukon Hospital Corporation to accommodate patients that are coming in now and that are predicted to come in the coming days, weeks and months. 

The Yukon government will also start reporting COVID-19 hospitalizations in the territory, and other data, McPhee said.

McPhee said the Yukon received 50,000 rapid test kits on Saturday from the federal government, and since Monday the territory has distributed 1,400 rapid test kits.

"As we receive more rapid take-home tests from the government of Canada, we will continue to make them available to Yukoners," she said.

Yukoners should be reminded, McPhee said, that the tests "are not a substitute for being vaccinated or following health conditions and public health measures."

On Monday, the territory began handing out rapid test kits in Whitehorse to people with COVID-19 symptoms. It comes after the territorial government announced last week that anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should assume they are infected and isolate immediately, rather than get a PCR test. 

Lab tests are currently reserved for those most at risk, the territory said.

Active COVID-19 case counts are on the rise in the Yukon, as they are throughout Canada, including in the N.W.T. and Nunavut.

On Wednesday, there were 70 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, putting the active case count to 471. There are many other cases that are not being diagnosed too, the territory has previously warned.

Elliott said the average new daily case count is 77 over the past week, and in the past three days that average jumps to 92.

There is also an outbreak at a long-term care home, Copper Ridge Place, involving two residents. The territory said the situation is contained and "routine outbreak management procedures" are in place, including screening and testing protocols. The territory said staff and families have also been given additional details.

The affected house is set to stay closed until Elliott declares the outbreak over.

Missed the news conference? Watch it here: 

Pop up vaccine clinic for youth

A pop up vaccine clinic will be held in Whitehorse on Thursday at the health centre for children aged five to 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Appointments can be booked by calling 867-667-8864. 

McPhee said the priority at the clinic right now is booster shots for eligible Yukoners – everyone over the age of 18 who has had their first two shots. Appointments can be booked online.

In February, Yukon will shift focus at the Whitehorse vaccine clinic to second shots for kids aged five to 11, many of whom received their shots in December, McPhee said.

On Tuesday evening, Elliott recommended in a news release that Yukoners returning from domestic travel monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and self-isolate when they are sick.

This means the recommendation to reduce contacts for the three- or five-day period following travel that were included in the holiday guidelines has been removed.


  • An earlier version of this story said that Premier Sandy Silver would take part in the news conference. In fact, Tracy-Anne McPhee, minister of health and social services, will appear alongside Dr. Catherine Elliott.
    Jan 12, 2022 10:23 AM CT

Written by Amy Tucker


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