Photo by Whitehorse Star
Dr. Brendan Hanley
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Dr. Brendan Hanley
Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, is reporting 66 new cases of COVID-19 since Friday afternoon as the outbreak worsens.
Twenty-two new cases were announced late Friday afternoon , with another 44 counted by Sunday afternoon.
There are now 124 active cases in the territory. Hanley now states this is the first true “wave” of COVID-19 in the Yukon.
The territory’s total case count is now 308. According to a news release, most are in Whitehorse.
One hundred and two individuals have recovered since June 1.
“COVID-19 is being widely transmitted throughout Yukon, primarily affecting unvaccinated people, and is now present in most Yukon communities. Eleven of 14 communities are home to COVID-19 positive people,” the statement said.
One of the major changes over the weekend involves child care facilities.
“Several daycare centres are now exposure locations for COVID-19,” the release said.
“(Hanley) has issued a recommendation that, for the next two weeks, parents keep children home from child care programs if they are able to do so,” said the news release.
“This recommendation will reduce the number of children in attendance, allow for more distance between children and provide increased flexibility for staff to stay home if sick.
“This recommendation does not apply to day camps.
“Daycare operators are reaching out directly to parents of any children who were exposed to COVID-19 at a daycare centre.”
Late Friday afternoon, spokesperson Pat Living of the Department of Health and Social Serrices provided the Star with a statement on the situation at daycares.
Last week, parents and other relatives of children attending a local day care affected by COVID-19 were critical of delayed communications from the government and slow testing reports after.
“We are currently dealing with an unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak during which it is very important for people to get the information they need as soon as possible,” Living wrote.
“Yukon Communicable Disease Control (YCDC) works diligently to get the necessary information from people who test positive for COVID-19 in order to undertake thorough contact tracing.
“Ensuring comprehensive and accurate information is gathered to allow YCDC to provide appropriate recommendations to those who have tested positive, their contacts and others such as parents and caregivers, is not always a quick process.
“We are currently managing hundreds of contacts associated with the current outbreak and teams are working all hours to gather and share relevant information,” Living added.
“The staff at YCDC are dedicated professionals who care deeply about their clients. Collecting comprehensive and accurate information is part of their work and will always be a priority.
“However, recognizing that there can be an interim period where parents are waiting for information about what to do until they hear from YCDC, we will be looking at what we can do to give early notice to parents if their daycare may be affected by a COVID-19 case.”
The Whitehorse Emergency Shelter has also been hard hit by the outbreak.
“(Hanley) is declaring an outbreak at the Whitehorse Emergency Shelter,” the press release said.
“An outbreak is declared when one or more persons tests positive in a congregate living setting. Approximately 15 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in shelter guests and staff.
“Testing for COVID-19 is available for staff and guests on an ongoing basis.
“ The shelter has a COVID-19 operational plan and is working with Yukon Communicable Disease Control and (Hanley) to ensure practices align with the evolving COVID-19 situation.”
Hanley has also made changes to accessing Whitehorse General Hospital.
“In response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the territory, Yukon’s hospitals are taking additional measures to keep everyone safe, protect staff and patients, and ensure hospital care is available when you need it most,” said the statement.
“Here’s what you can do to help and expect to see when you go to hospital. Only go to the hospital emergency department, if you need urgent care.
“New visitor restrictions are coming into effect starting today. No visitors or support persons will be allowed – with only a few, limited exceptions.
“Some non-urgent hospital services will be limited or postponed, so your surgery may be rescheduled for another time or your appointment for a lab test may be delayed.
“The hospitals may have to adjust or modify other less urgent services as required.
“You will be asked some additional questions by the screening team when you arrive at the hospital;please continue to be patient and kind, as they have an important role in our safety.
“You will be asked to wear a hospital-provided mask and keep it on in all areas of the hospital – even if you bring your own personal mask. This is to provide everyone the same level of protection.
“Expect these limited measures to be in place for two weeks and reassessed at that time.
“COVID-19 continues to spread widely in Yukon, mostly amongst unvaccinated adults, youth and children. We must pull together, by:
• staying calm, and staying kind;
• sticking to six – keeping any informal gatherings to no more than six people;
• keeping your contacts small and consistent;
• strictly observing all current public health measures; and
• staying away from others and arranging for testing when you have symptoms,” Hanley said.
On Friday, he also called for a “social firebreak” to help control the spread.
He wants people to restrict gathering sizes to six people to possibly break the chain of infection.
“We expect to see high daily numbers of cases for a while yet,” he said.
“This outbreak is mostly affecting unvaccinated adults, children, and youth, but even vaccinated people are at some risk.
“There is a high risk for spread of COVID-19 in any social gathering, and great care must be taken. Any organized gathering such as a wedding or funeral must adhere to current guidelines.
“Unorganized social gatherings should for now be limited to no more than six adults.
“Limiting our contacts for the next two weeks will help us take a pause and assess where we are. Our public health system is significantly challenged right now and this measure will allow us to address where we are seeing our greatest risk.
“It is time to take a pause and slow down on social gatherings. For now, I would like all Yukoners to limit informal gatherings to a small number, regardless of vaccination status.”
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