Whitehorse Daily Star

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Dr. Brendan Hanley

Affected couple ‘are doing well’

The Yukon’s first two cases of COVID-19 were found in people who self-isolated after returning to the Yukon from travel, successfully limiting the risk to the territory.

By Whitehorse Star on March 23, 2020

The Yukon’s first two cases of COVID-19 were found in people who self-isolated after returning to the Yukon from travel, successfully limiting the risk to the territory.

“These individuals did everything correctly, and are doing well,” Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s chief medical officer, told a news conference Sunday evening in Whitehorse.

“They’re meticulously following public health advice.”

The cases were confirmed on Sunday afternoon and addressed by Hanley at the press conference. 

The two Whitehorse residents are from the same household and went into self-isolation immediately after returning from a conference in the United States last week. They were later notified of COVID-19 cases at the convention.

Their names are not being publicly released.

The couple did not experience any symptoms while travelling.

They fell ill after returning home and contacted Yukon Communicable Disease for testing. The results came back positive three days later, Hanley said.

The two are experiencing a “mild” case of the disease and are expected to make a full recovery.

Hanley said the two cases do not change the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the territory, because self-isolation procedures were followed.

The pair arrived in the Yukon on a flight last week, but Hanley said he will not be specifying the flight nor contacting those who were on it.

This is because the pair was asymptomatic during travel. This is in line with federal policies for contact-tracing.

Hanley said there is very little risk of anyone on the same flight having contracted the disease.

Internationally, there have been very few, “if any,” secondary cases discovered from contact-tracing flights with infected persons, Hanley said. When travellers are not experiencing any symptoms, the risk is even smaller.

Choosing when to contact-trace is based on the best use of resources to address the highest-risk situations, Hanley said.

While asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 does exist, its role in the overall pandemic is “very small,” leading to the decision not to contact-trace asymptomatic travellers.

“You have to go where the risk is, in terms of public health resources,” Hanley said.

He added that the circumstances of the first two cases are proof that the Yukon’s system of self-isolation and social distancing is working.

Hanley expressed appreciation to the two Yukoners, who ensured the risk in the territory remains low by following the advice of medical officials.

As of Sunday night, 244 negative tests were returned to the Yukon.

There are 172 tests still pending results, for a total of 418 tests conducted.

Comments (31)

Up 1 Down 0

Dave on Mar 29, 2020 at 5:26 pm

Sunday evening and multiple new cases of BC airline flights with Coronavirus positive people on board were reported. The BC Ministry of health is supplying the airline flight numbers, seat rows and telling people seated in rows close to those affected passengers they need to self isolate for two weeks. Excuse my French but what Dr. Hanley and our government is dishing out up here is BS. If I were to get and then pass on Coronavirus due to the misinformation they're dishing out concerning airline flights I'll be filing a lawsuit.

Up 7 Down 2

No medical officer will give out personal information on Mar 28, 2020 at 3:35 pm

And there's a good reason for that - based on some of the hysteria around, people with the virus might be subjected to who-knows-what. For heaven's sake - quit trying to find out the flight (there are only a couple of flights per day) or the individuals' names. Just do as the experts tell us and wash your hands, keep your distance from others.

Up 6 Down 3

Groucho d'North on Mar 28, 2020 at 1:40 pm

You raise a good point, which caused me to wonder how independent Dr. Hanely is in his communications to the public? Is everything he says vetted by the political staff and electeds or can he speak his mind without guideance and suggestions from the government people?

Up 17 Down 0

Protect the Yukon on Mar 27, 2020 at 6:07 pm

Time to shut down the churches - seriously these are NOT essential services! They can provide video church. Protect your elders and the most vulnerable..Close them down.

Up 29 Down 4

Johanne on Mar 27, 2020 at 2:46 pm

There was a whole other segment to my earlier comment :

His comment about there being very little risk of anyone on the same flight having contracted the disease is far from reassuring. It makes one wonder if perhaps he is no longer fit to occupy the position that he is in.

This segment is important because it points out that we might be currently led by someone worth questioning, thus the lack of reassurance that we can draw from his comment. And from all subsequent measures he is enforcing. We are talking about a CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER who is claiming that there are no risks of contamination in an airplane. Come on!!!!

Up 19 Down 2

Jayne W on Mar 27, 2020 at 1:06 pm

I would like to know why there are only updates every few days in the Yukon. There is another case at least (we can't be planking yet) and no announcement made. The faster people are aware of a new case the sooner people are going to realize this is not a joke, and stay home if you can.

Up 14 Down 1

Numbers Don't Lie on Mar 27, 2020 at 1:01 pm

Dr Hanley quit giving conflicting information. Follow the standards set by BC https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/covid-19-bc-modelling-numbers-dr-bonnie-henry-1.5512269

Up 32 Down 4

Johanne on Mar 27, 2020 at 10:58 am

Can the couple be more responsible than our chief medical officer and publish the flight number and date to allow fellow passengers to take the necessary measures? The CMO's refusal to make them aware discredit every other measures that are being imposed on the population.

Up 23 Down 0

vinegar on Mar 26, 2020 at 7:20 pm

To DA. I was protecting my 90 year old sister, I'm 75, the youth is probably 25. I had to tell him twice because he just ignored me. So you would really have to know the character of this youth cursing an elder. But to suggest his behavior is my fault is really impolite on your part.

Up 9 Down 13

DA on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:40 am

Why did the 90-year-old's relative go back into the store swearing at you? Were you polite and gracious about the 6' rule, or were you impatient and rude? People - though well intentioned - are not always good at being gracious. I was at Superstore the other day and a lady freaked out at me for something incredibly minor. I would have responded well to her if she was gracious, but she was actually quite rude.

All that to say, let's be patient and gracious with one another.

Up 34 Down 10

Capitan on Mar 25, 2020 at 1:19 pm

@Atom, why were you on the street? I just love these observations from people who are out and about calling out other people who are out and about. It's whacked. I suppose you're different because...why? Take care of your own actions.

Up 18 Down 22

Atom on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:33 pm

Oh and I have seen some "prominent' retired folks from certain communities on the streets of Whitehorse today!
I'm not even gonna say please, just don't assholes!

Up 40 Down 3

Atom on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:32 pm

I see the message as quite clear....if you were on ANY flight to the Yukon in the past 2-3 weeks you need to self quarantine.
That message has been clear from the start of this thing all across the world.
Stop trying to blame someone for your role in this thing. Folks, you are not so important that you don't need to follow the basic direction of social distancing and self isolation. Everybody is suffering through this, it's not about You.
And with the testing being so important they don't need everybody looking for someone to blame coming in for tests and potentially contaminating their Path on the way to and from the testing facility.
Don't embarrass us.

Up 18 Down 2

Layne Goldsmith on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:13 am

I am experiencing the same thing here, in Kimberley, BC. I picked a new friend up from the airport, & a wk late, the airlines calls her, & tells her, someone on her flight was CV19 Positive. I have quarantined myself for 14 days - but her Dr told her it only needs to be 1 wk (disregarding the fact that she left the house twice, to go to the Clinic ....Apparently, a person can't contract CV19 @ a Clinic???!?) So now, she is telling her roommate that he only needs to self isolate/quarantine for a week. I have 7 days left - just to be safe. I'm not about to trust her Dr's instructions, bcuz in my opinion, thaaat Dr duzn't know anymore than the other 100,000 Dr's in the World, that are telling us 14 days self isolation/quarantine. Better to be safe, than put other Seniors @ risk... seems like common sense to me. We are now not speaking, as I will never feel safe - or trust her, or her roommate, in my car.

Up 36 Down 9

No, Josey Wales, your point isn't too abstract on Mar 25, 2020 at 7:09 am

...just incoherent. Your posts have been getting stranger, maybe it's time to take a break

Up 19 Down 8

Mike Grieco on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:30 pm

Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis hasn't said much with ragards to the Coronavirus in the public arena. Strange.....

Up 29 Down 8

What a joke on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Wait a minute! We are all non-symptomatic and are being told we 'could infect others - be careful! don't go to work, school, a restaurant, bar or event..' and so on, and yet two people who were already positive when they got on an international flight, then incubated the virus a little longer before they got on their flight to the Yukon, somehow were no danger to all the other people on the plane?!

What is the big secret? Obviously it is NOT that important to self-isolate, and this is exactly what I suspected! If they thought there was any danger, they'd tell us the flight number so people could get tested. Nope! They say there is 'virtually no chance' that anyone got infected.

So here's the message: So long as you and those you are going to hang around with have no symptoms, it is perfectly fine to be in close contact for several hours in a poorly ventilated, tightly packed area.

Up 21 Down 3

Syrena Oswald on Mar 24, 2020 at 3:45 pm

We are all doing our best to adhere to the medical chief's advice and be compassionate. Those who were on the flight have every right to know so they can take precautions. This is not the time to discuss low and high risk, it's about doing the right thing. I would want to know and that is my right as a responsible citizen. To ensure I don't possible infect others. Poor choice but I pray it works in the doctors favour.

Up 49 Down 12

Katie on Mar 24, 2020 at 11:47 am

In my opinion, at this point there's not much we can do besides actively fulfilling our roles individually. Dr. Hanley and his crew have been issuing really conflicting and somewhat insensible information from the beginning. One minute they say this COVID-19 is not a big deal, the next minute they have " the pandemic plan" whatever that is.

It seems like the officials aren't taking a stand of their own in making decisions such as alerting those who might have been in contact with the confirmed duo. Concealing critical info such as flight-contacts couldn't possibly help prevent the spread of the virus. It is plausible that the couple self-isolated post arrival, and followed prevention protocol,however this effort will be trumped if others from the same undisclosed flights were infected either from their out-of-territory visits or from the couple.

There might be COVID-19 cases in our territory apart from the confirmed cases. There's been unclear communication by the health officials surrounding this COVID-19, preparedness and what's being done, testing/results, seriousness of the infection etc. and now the contact alert. To preserve the health care system resources, wouldn't it be helpful to name the flights and dates to raise awareness?

The pressure sitting on Dr. Hanley and his team must be insurmountable. Sometimes people don't think straight under such pressure, hence a challenged decision making. It sounds like they are firmly sticking with what Health Canada and international information suggest and nothing more, so the responsibility falls back on us as individuals.
If you are returning from travels, do your part; feeling unwell and suspect infection, do your part. If you really want to remain untouched by this virus, do your part even though the rest is beyond your control. You know of someone who is deliberately breaking prevention protocols placing others at risk, report that accordingly.
The health officials can help with health education, updates on the progression or containment of the virus and so forth, but the responsibility still remains on us all. After all such updates are as dynamic as the thoughts of our healthcare officials, so placing all expectations on Dr. Hanley won't bear much fruit. Some of their decisions might keep disappointing us, hence the need to all do our part individually and collectively.

Up 32 Down 46

Josey Wales on Mar 24, 2020 at 8:54 am

...and yet if that scenario were a couple on a flight that brought a handgun, or said something that offended one of the perpetually offended?

We would not only know their names (I have no need remotely), the flight number (far more relevant), video of said entry, audio of luggage claims, state broadcaster interviewing colleagues and neighbors of couple, same broadcaster would interview folks that went to elementary school with said couple to see where...their RW views came from...how much hate handguns and bad words brought into their lives etc.

Get my point? too abstract?

Up 54 Down 4

Anyone who was on that flight, or any flight on Mar 24, 2020 at 7:15 am

should have immediately gone into self-isolation, really no need to contact other passengers. At this point everyone should just assume there's been exposure, and take the steps being recommended.

Up 58 Down 5

Moose101 on Mar 24, 2020 at 6:24 am

Look up what they have found out about being asymptomatic and I would presume Dr Hanley knows this. Just because you are showing no symptoms does not mean that person cannot transmit the virus to other people! I sent Dr Hanley an email on Monday asking him why they are not releasing the flight # and contacting or informing people who may have had contact with this couple . The list is staggering and is why viruses are spread so easily . Just think of the people who may have JUST TOUCHED this couple or there belongings, ticket agents, stewardesses, other passengers on the flight, baggage handlers, taxi drivers, security screeners, the list goes on. I would hope Dr Hanley will rethink his statement and why it is such a secret .

Up 42 Down 7

Leroy Brown on Mar 23, 2020 at 11:40 pm

There are a lot of contradictory messages being communicated. This is likely not due to an intentional deception of the associated risks that the viral pandemic actually presents but rather the deception that accompanies a holyshitt what do we do placatory, stall for time, make it up as we go along, leadership style.

Up 32 Down 33

Juniper Jackson on Mar 23, 2020 at 10:10 pm

I think it is unreasonable to expect people not to go out.. not to congregate? yes..not to get in someones face? yes.. but not everyone had the money to stock up, and there were a lot of empty shelves. I'm going out to see if some of the items I needed are on the shelves now. I don't have a credit card.. (No..not TP) But, I am also not going to be stupid about it. I think there are things we are not being told. It doesn't seem reasonable to me to shut down the whole countries economy, crash the stock market, put millions of people off the job for a flu that primarily attacks people with underlaying health conditions, many of whom are seniors. I am a senior and have health conditions, so I will be going to get my bread and milk with a N95 face mask and latex gloves. Coronavirus Cases:
381,744 World Wide
Deaths: 16,558
Recovered: 102,429

From Oct 19 to March 2020 there have been approx 59 million cases of flu..with approx 59,000 deaths attacking all ages. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/preliminary-in-season-estimates.htm

So.. the world came to an absolute standstill for 16,000 deaths.. I will be doing my part, because i don't think we got all the story..but, i also don't want to get sick with this coronavirus, or just the flu. I don't want to be sick at all with anything.

Up 44 Down 3

Justin on Mar 23, 2020 at 8:15 pm

I have to agree with JC on this one. In the question period, our territorial cmo said that contact tracking is not done as a rule when passengers are asymptomatic. When asked about when passengers had symptoms, he replied that contact tracking is not necessarily done, as other jurisdictions have found few, to no cases of secondary transmission within the closest three rows.
So with something as “highly contagious” as the virus causing covid-19, if someone were on an airplane, seated in close proximity to a number of people, let’s use rows of 5 as a round number. That’s three rows forward, three back, plus the row the individual is seated in. That puts 34 people in “close proximity” to the affected symptomatic individual. Out of that number of people, this “highly contagious” virus affects “few to no” other individuals? I’m not sorry to say, this defies all logic as it has been presented so far. Basically dropping a large rock right on the toe of this whole situation.
Perhaps someone of greater intellectual capacity than myself, can reconcile this information and in a way that make sense?
Thank you

Up 19 Down 4

Capitan on Mar 23, 2020 at 5:20 pm

I think Brendan Hanley said the fact that two cases of the virus were positive wasn't the reason for his other announcements. It seemed that the announcements were aligned with what was happening in the rest of the country. Catherine Elliot explained that infections to people sharing the same plane have not been significant (it says in the article it was Hanley, I thought it was her) and that transmission when someone isn't showing symptoms has also not been a big issue. I know we're hearing different things elsewhere, but they were answering these questions while people complained they weren't.

It would be a disaster if they were sharing a lot of information with communities about specifics of positive cases. I can't even imagine. They sent out dozens, maybe hundreds, of tests, you had to know some would be positive. The Yukon government site also has the number of tests that came back negative and it's very high. I haven't seen those published before and that was smart. People might get a little perspective.

Up 62 Down 3

Aretaeus on Mar 23, 2020 at 5:02 pm

Huge mistake not notifying other passengers on that flight. Anyone of us could have sat beside those two, ate a meal, had a drink with our faces only a foot apart for a couple hours. This alone flies in the face of what Hanley says about 'social distancing'.

Now we have potentially dozens of people freely roaming around town, interacting with work colleagues, friends and family while possibly infecting hundreds and eventually thousands.

How hard would it have been to get the passenger manifest and track down those 150 people on that flight, the air crew, flight deck staff and baggage handlers and test them. I don't care if 'contact tracing' isn't the Canadian protocol, the medical field has a long history of being wrong from bloodletting to trepanation to drinking mercury. Be over aggressive with restrictions and testing.

Do it like people's lives are in peril, because they are.

Up 76 Down 1

Janet Patterson on Mar 23, 2020 at 5:01 pm

I find the messaging here very confusing. On the one hand, we are being told that we can have no symptoms and can still pass on the virus. Isn’t that why anyone who has travelled needs to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms? On the other hand, Dr. Handley is saying the risk is practically zero that these two have infected others, because they had no symptoms when they travelled. I’m just looking for some clarification here. Thanks.

Up 141 Down 6

JC on Mar 23, 2020 at 4:35 pm

Regardless of the fact these two were asymptomatic during the flight, should it not be necessary to inform all the other passengers on the flight? If Dr. Hanley doesn't think there is a risk from people that close together, why is he and Silvers shutting down all the restaurants and other places where people congregate? Doesn't make sense to me. I would think all the passengers on the flight would want to be contacted so they can immediately quarantine themselves. Or is Dr. Hanley not telling us something?

Up 131 Down 4

Dave on Mar 23, 2020 at 3:56 pm

Ok, I have a major concern with the entire aspect of not contacting people who were on that same flight. If that is the case why are other Canadians being advised to contact officials if they were on WestJet or Air Canada flight so and so in other parts of Canada with a person who then tested positive for Coronavirus?
We the public don’t need to hear different things depending on which official, province, or government agency is saying it at a time like this.

Up 115 Down 7

vinegar on Mar 23, 2020 at 3:50 pm

There are a lot of stupid people in Yukon. I'm with a 90 year old in Walmart a guy comes up, hi, inches from her face. I said Hey, 6' distance. he said 'she's my relative'! O' so the virus is going to know you are related, no problem. Same thing happened outside, exactly, I said hey 6' distance. 'She's my Auntie.!' He then goes into Walmart swearing and cursing at me. A senior in Yukon Housing came back from Vancouver, broke the 14 day quarantine, 'I had to get out.!' Wow and what about the rest of the people in the building, not to mention the rest of the town. Something is not being broadcast. To go out to a crowded convention in the USA is just as stupid and irresponsible, but you don't know that till you get the virus.

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