Yukon top doctor changes travel recommendations for residents returning home

Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health is now recommending that Yukoners returning home from travel should monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and self-isolate when they are sick, rather than reduce contacts for three to five days.

The change is to reflect that 'COVID-19 activity [is] similar in the Yukon to that outside the territory'

Downtown Whitehorse in winter. Yukon residents are advised to avoid non-essential travel into the communities due to a surge in COVID-19 cases across the territory and country. (Paul Tukker/CBC)

Yukoners are no longer being asked to reduce contacts for the three- to five-day period following travel previously included in the holiday guidelines.

Instead, Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical officer of health, recommends Yukoners who are returning from domestic travel monitor for COVID-19 symptoms and self-isolate when they are sick.

The territory said in a news release Tuesday evening that the change is to reflect that "COVID-19 activity [is] similar in the Yukon to that outside the territory."

That said, people are still advised to avoid non-essential travel.

"The rapid rise of Omicron in the territory, across the country and around the world, makes it unwise to travel for non-essential purposes right now," Elliott said in a statement.

"Travel increases your risk of getting COVID-19 due to an increase in potential and actual contacts and if you get sick and need hospital care, this puts an added burden on you, your family and the health care system at a time when most systems are stretched right now."

Elliott also cautioned Yukoners to "stay close to home and keep your contacts low."

As of Tuesday, there are at least 456 active COVID-19 cases territory-wide, 123 more than Monday's count. There are many other cases that are not being diagnosed too, the territory has previously warned.

Yukon communities still at 'significant risk'

Those who do choose to travel should familiarize themselves with the public health regulations, be prepared to show their proof of vaccination, and "accept that there may be challenges accessing services," the release says.

Elliott said Yukon communities are still at "significant risk" when it comes to the Omicron variant, adding that people should avoid non-essential travel to the communities.

"Several First Nations governments and communities have travel advisories in place so Yukoners are encouraged to check before making any travel plans," the release says. Non-essential international traveller is also not advised.