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Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley

Smooth sailing for anti-COVID-19 measures: premier, MD

Yukon officials say all is well with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as they gave their weekly briefing on the virus on Wednesday afternoon.

By Tim Giilck on January 21, 2021

Yukon officials say all is well with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as they gave their weekly briefing on the virus on Wednesday afternoon.

Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory’s medical officer of health, outlined the current situation from the number of active cases – which is zero – to the ongoing vaccination clinics.

A new case hasn’t been reported for just over a week, according to the government figures.

That’s good news by any standard, but Silver and Hanley were quick to emphasize that it’s too soon for Yukoners to let their guard down.

“It’s always feels great to arrive back at zero, but we can’t relax,” Hanley said.

Silver said 2,600 people have been vaccinated thus far at the clinics.

“It’s been really cool to see the stories on Facebook,” he said. “It’s been a fantastic rate of uptake.

“The goal is to roll out the vaccine as quickly and safely as possible,” Silver continued. “We have to remember the vaccine is quite fragile, and we don’t want to waste a dose.”

The efforts to eradicate the virus have been so successful that the government is shutting down the drive-through clinic at Centennial Motors’ wash bay on Friday, he said.

The number of people being tested at the Hillcrest location has dwindled in recent weeks, Silver said.

Another startling effect is that virus activity off all kinds – including the flu and the common cold – have also plummeted.

Hanley said virtually no cases of either common virus are being reported in the Yukon. He attributed that to a welcome side effect of COVID safety measures such as the Safe Six and mask-wearing.

Viral infections are so low at the moment that Hanley said any exhibiting respiratory symptoms should consider it likely they may have been exposed to COVID and should take precautionary steps, such as getting tested.

Hanley also noted the so-called “spit” or gargle test is now available in the Yukon.

That’s good news for parents with small children, as it’s easier to administer than the conventional nasal test.

He said the Yukon remains on track to vaccinate 75 per cent of the adult population – which is the traditional figure used to estimate herd immunity – by April. That’s if vaccine supplies hold up, which is not certain.

Silver said he is “absolutely confident in the vaccine supply.

“I’m not concerned at all,” he added. “We’re wanting to expedite this process.”

Hanley was more cautious. While he remained confident, he said, events such as the problems with the Pfizer vaccine delivery schedule couldn’t be predicted, and contingency plans and flexibility need to be built into the process.

So far, there has been remarkably little vaccine hesitancy seen from the public, both men said.

Hanley said his staff have been fielding some questions on the vaccine, including adverse effects, and whether the vaccine will stop transmission of the COVID virus or simply grant immunity.

“That’s (the questions) not uncommon with a new vaccine,” he said. “There are still things to be worked on.”

Even if the vaccines don’t stop transmission, the virus will still sputter out once herd immunity is reached, he suggested.

It’s not clear, though, exactly what that magic number to achieve herd immunity is.

Hanley suggested it’s likely that traditional 70-75 per cent – but no one knows for sure.

“That’s why there’s an urgency to achieve herd immunity,” he said. “It will likely have a dampening effect on transmission. The two go together.”

Silver said that continuing with safety precautions such as the Safe Six for the moment is also a way of showing Yukoners “care about their community.

“It makes others be protected, and it’s not as much for ourselves,” he said.

The government issued a news release in conjunction with the briefing.

As of Wednesday, the COVID-19 case count for the Yukon is 70. Sixty-nine people have recovered, one person has died (in Watson Lake), and there are no active cases.

As of end-of-day on Tuesday, 2,690 Yukoners have received their first dose of the Moderna vaccine, including all staff and residents of long-term care homes who chose to participate.

There are currently 18 mobile clinics scheduled in rural and remote areas, and residents within designated communities who are age 18 and older can receive a vaccine.

Yukoners living in Whitehorse and the Ibex Valley, Marsh Lake and Mount Lorne areas can also book a vaccine appointment if they are 70 years and older, or live in group settings.

Whitehorse and area residents age 60 and older will be eligible starting Feb.1. Everyone 18 and over can receive a shot starting Feb. 10.

The government had received 1,349 complaints as of Wednesday:

• Failure to self-isolate: 753;

• Gatherings over 10 inside or 50 outside: 35;

• Failure to transit through Yukon in 24 hours or stay on their designated route: 425;

• Businesses failing to comply with orders: 14;

• Failure to abide by declaration form: 19;

• Failure to wear a mask: 68; and

• Failure to physical distance: 35.

There have been a total of 40 charges and 33 people charged under the Civil Emergency Measures Act, including one new charge of the failure to self-isolate since the last COVID-19 update on Jan. 13.

Other statistics:

• Number of total incoming travellers: 68,295;

• Resident travellers: 18,394;

• B.C. residents: 15,477;

• N.W.T. residents: 506;

• Other approved jurisdictions: 356;

• Non-residents staying: 11,844;

• Non-residents transiting: 21,619; and

Other: 99.

There have been 369 windshield decals distributed indicating out-of-territory vehicles permitted in the Yukon.

Comments (25)

Up 4 Down 20

Nathan Living on Jan 24, 2021 at 5:47 pm

The city of Whitehorse has done a great job keeping the CGC open and safe and keeping the city running smoothly during covid.

No wonder the Liberals want Mayor Dan Curtis to run in the next territorial election.

Up 6 Down 7

Groucho d'North on Jan 24, 2021 at 5:16 pm

Its still early innings with this pandemic and much will still go sideways, but the elected types will run from delivering that message. The vaccines to date have not been the magic elixir many were hoping for but I must applaud all that was achieved over the past year. Lots of R&D to identify the bug and what will make it do what doctors want it to do without any hitches - some really good work was done, but as time moves forward more will be learned about how effective the vaccines are to the variants that are now appearing and more work will be required by many around the world. Perhaps in all of this they will find a way for people to follow the instructions that will keep them safe - but I doubt it.

Up 1 Down 12

Sue Sez on Jan 24, 2021 at 3:05 pm

I wonder what # of 0 cases, now enviably enjoyed in YT, would the 0 be if there had been NO lock downs, destructive restrictions, ridiculous communist control, lack of eating out, swilling a beer etc.? Herds follow one hapless fool over a cliff-govt's are there to help direct the safe driving of the majority. So unfortunate for business closures, so was the Dust Bowls of The Depression, so was the lost homes of every $ Crash that seem to hit on regular decades spacing. They could of been controlled resets by the few but this control of Covid is our own chance to help each other thru the adoption of guidelines. There IS exorbitant debt because of helping others, small businesses, etc. Hopefully we will reset without warring so it is not helpful to war amongst ourselves. Lock downs-necessary.

Up 17 Down 10

Juniper Jackson on Jan 24, 2021 at 10:31 am

To say.. I was right, from the first lock down does little good. I still am under martial law, being touted as Emergency Measures, I am still stuffing a mask on my face and I am still being told don't hug my mother, you might be killing her. To people who are saying..I'll give up my rights.. think again what you are giving up.
There is absolutely NO justification for extending indefinitely our civil and constitutional rights.

Up 15 Down 1

NATHAN DOIRON on Jan 24, 2021 at 9:19 am

Nothing is more permanent then a temporary government program.

Up 14 Down 3

NATHAN DOIRON on Jan 24, 2021 at 9:18 am

Cema has been instituted illegally. You're telling me one person dying over the course of the entire year constituted enacting a civil emergency? What about opiods? I personally know people that have died from that in Whitehorse alone in the past 2 months. That's a far greater emergency then this.

Up 20 Down 5

Max Mack on Jan 23, 2021 at 11:59 am

Silver says: "It makes others be protected, and it’s not as much for ourselves."

Only weak evidence to support that view. The best defense against infecting others is to stay home when you are sick. Anything else is dubious. If anything, we should want people to be exposed to low levels of the virus to enable people to build up a natural immune response.
This has been going on for 10 months now. More people are dying from everything other than Covid due to the lockdowns, restrictions and social isolation.

End the fake emergency.

Up 10 Down 2

YukonMax on Jan 23, 2021 at 11:08 am

Saskatchewan just announced they are now stretching the timeline for the second doses to 42 days. While the Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart.
Enough to put doubts in Yukoners minds about getting the second dose in the recommended time... just saying.
Maybe they'll be a "Public Survey" asking about what to do about it?

Up 9 Down 1

DL on Jan 23, 2021 at 12:18 am

If our politicians and CMO get their directives from WHO, we're in trouble:
"Violating Science, WHO Changes Meaning of Herd Immunity"

"In June 2020, the WHO changed its definition of herd immunity, stating the only way to achieve herd immunity is by vaccination. The new definition is inconsistent with long-established science which says herd immunity occurs when enough people acquire immunity to an infectious disease."


Up 17 Down 6

North_of_60 on Jan 22, 2021 at 8:59 pm

Everyone will eventually get Covid.
If you're not overweight, and have a healthy immune system with serum vitD levels over 100 n-mol/L you might not even notice you had it.

The fatter you are; the more vid D deficient you are; and the older you are with those conditions, then the more likely your Covid 'immunization' experience will be unpleasant. If you're fat, sick and old, then you might take the vaccine and hope for the best, otherwise give it a pass; you don't need it if you're fit and your vitD levels are good.

Why isn't the Million-Dollar-Man earning his keep and recommending that people get free vitamin D from the govt. THAT would actually do some good, and it's backed-up by numerous studies in the journals of medical science.
Are these people paying any attention to their medical training instead of their political masters?

Up 11 Down 2

Truth be told on Jan 22, 2021 at 5:28 pm

No matter what you say you have not done a good job with the borders either land or air.

Up 2 Down 21

JSmonk on Jan 22, 2021 at 2:07 pm

@gordie the good for many is the good for one. If giving up some civil liberties to protect our elders is us giving up to the communist machine then it may be worth it. They are who built these lands after all and should be protected at all costs.

Up 10 Down 16

JSmonk on Jan 22, 2021 at 9:58 am

@DL oh be very afraid, those liberals are going to take your rights! The communist machine is coming to subjugate us all to a life of slavery and obedience. All we can do is keep fighting in the comments to make sure we are heard. The voice of the free people.

Up 23 Down 8

Gordie on Jan 22, 2021 at 8:39 am

@ JSmonk here is a nice little quote for you and I feel the same way. "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a
little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." This convid 1984 virus is not really what they are playing it out to be. Go live in fear like the media want you to do.

Up 18 Down 8

Jared K on Jan 22, 2021 at 8:38 am

"Even if the vaccines don’t stop transmission, the virus will still sputter out once herd immunity is reached."

These people take everyone for fools. My goodness.

Up 14 Down 13

Sheepchaser on Jan 22, 2021 at 7:45 am

Every time Silver gets up there to take credit for Hanley’s good work, my respect for them goes in divergent directions.

Keep it up, Doctor!

Up 13 Down 5

Jake The Bosun on Jan 22, 2021 at 6:53 am

DL - you will own nothing, and you will be happy!
(After all JT gave us marijuana.)

Up 24 Down 6

DL on Jan 21, 2021 at 11:02 pm

Sometimes CBC tells the truth, at least partly:
“COVID-19 could shutter more than 200,000 Canadian businesses forever, CFIB says”

Fact is, the LOCKDOWNS and RESTRICTIONS are destroying businesses, NOT covid-19. Lockdowns have been repeatedly imposed on us by politicians, then lifted, and then put back on again because lockdowns don’t eradicate the virus, and politicians have no exit strategy. Lockdowns are unsustainable. An impossibly enormous debt is imposed on next generations.

Apparently, even the covid vaccines don’t prevent transmission as mentioned in the above article. Let’s be honest: covid-19 is here to stay. It is already widespread the world over. This virus will keep mutating, as viruses have done for millions of years. It will spread the moment the border is open again. The upside is that covid-19 infections have only mild symptoms, or no symptoms, for the great majority of people.

Instead of destructive lockdowns, there are better long-term solutions. Look up the declaration signed by over 53,000 physicians and medical scientists the world over on how to deal with covid-19: https://gbdeclaration.org/

These medical scientists advocate the ‘focused protection’ approach for vulnerable ones, while the rest of society keeps producing our life-sustaining goods and services. That is the sustainable way to achieve 'herd immunity'.

Up 26 Down 4

so all of us who said we can just deal with this like a typical flu on Jan 21, 2021 at 8:05 pm

were completely right?

Stats show no increase in death. Even globally, not a single "uptick" in deaths. Same old death rate.

Up 21 Down 6

JC on Jan 21, 2021 at 4:42 pm

DL. I think JT made that announcement while he was vacationing in Barbados over the Xmas and New Year holidays.

Up 20 Down 7

Bedrock Billy on Jan 21, 2021 at 4:39 pm

Got vaccinated yesterday. Except for a slightly sore arm - no more than the flu shot, everything seems fine. But my neighbour asked me why I was howling at the moon last night. And I had a bit more hair to shave off my face this morning. But, other than that, smooth sailing.

Up 23 Down 8

Matthew on Jan 21, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Enough is enough! This is beyond ridiculous. This is control over fear.. and no one is scared.. well I lie, I'm scared for the next 3 generations who will have to pay off this debt we've loaded on as a country.. just waiting for the day that the IMF comes in and erases out debt, for control of course.. LOL so many things id like to say but sadly the star won't post it..

Up 47 Down 27

DL on Jan 21, 2021 at 2:47 pm

Quoting from above article: “Even if the vaccines don’t stop transmission, the virus will still sputter out once herd immunity is reached, he suggested.” Isn’t that a contradiction? Herd immunity happens when the virus is no longer transmitted. If the virus is still transmitted after having taken the vaccine, then there is no reaching herd immunity. Anyway, Trudeau has recently announced a new covid virus mutation is invading Canada, and it’s a lot more contagious, be very afraid.

They impose lockdowns, which are way more destructive than the virus itself. Then they use our lockdown despair to string us along with a carrot forever out of reach. All of these contradictions are indicative of an agenda. Trudeau himself mentioned it already: The great reset.

Up 28 Down 51

JSmonk on Jan 21, 2021 at 1:25 pm

I would hope we do not ease up on any restrictions for the following future, as it is clearly working for us. 0 Cases while the rest of Canada is in ruins because of Yukoners adherence to the guidelines. I would give up even more of my rights if it meant keeping others safe and others should feel the same way.

Up 49 Down 34

Josey Wales on Jan 21, 2021 at 12:54 pm

nearly a year after the "two weeks" required to save the world from the CHIna virus...
“It’s always feels great to arrive back at zero, but we can’t relax,” Hanley said."

Power hungry political opportunists.

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