Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A NEW LOOK – Dale Cheeseman is seen in the Fourth Avenue respiratory assessment centre this morning. Around the edges are treatment rooms, storage rooms and a waiting area.

Third case found; hospital to suspend services

A third Yukon case of COVID-19 was discovered this morning in an individual who was travelling within Canada and is now in self-isolation.

By Gabrielle Plonka on March 25, 2020

A third Yukon case of COVID-19 was discovered this morning in an individual who was travelling within Canada and is now in self-isolation.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the territory’s chief medical officer, provided an update this morning with Pauline Frost, the Health minister.

Case investigation and contact tracing are now underway to identify whether the individual came into contact with other Yukoners before entering isolation. The positive test result came 48 hours after the individual was tested.

Hanley said the quick turnaround time of the test result is encouraging, after backlogs in testing last week warned of six-day delays.

The chief medical officer is advising a 14-day isolation period for all Yukoners returning from Outside travel, it was announced last Sunday.

This case shows the importance of self-isolating after travel to other provinces and territories, Hanley said.

The person’s place of residency in the Yukon was not disclosed.

As of this morning, 517 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the Yukon, with 412 negative results and 102 tests still pending.

This morning’s announcement also included information about the territory’s new respiratory assessment centre, health care insurance and hospital procedures.

The respiratory assessment centre was opened at the Yukon Convention Centre at the south end of Fourth Avenue on Monday.

The centre is not a walk-in clinic. Yukoners will be referred to the clinic by a health care professional, via the 8-1-1 nurse’s hotline, the hospital, a family physician or Yukon Communicable Disease Control.

The assessment centre will be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The first two opening hours will be dedicated to treating patients with chronic health conditions or patients aged 65 and older.

The government is now extending the Health Care Insurance Plan to cover Yukon residents who are not able to return to the territory. The usual 180-day Yukon residency requirement to access insurance has been waived.

The Yukon’s hospitals will also be suspending all non-urgent or routine services effective Thursday. These include bloodwork, lab tests, x-rays, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, CT scans and other imaging services.

The measure will enable physical distancing in hospitals and ensure there is capacity to respond to a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

Hanley said he has received communication from Yukoners who are looking for more extreme measures, like closing the Yukon border and all non-essential businesses. He explained that such measures have colossal impacts, and his office is still working with a measured approach.

“Let’s not underestimate the effects of shutting down … we are already facing months to years of recovery,” Hanley said.

He added that the potential risk of allowing some businesses and mines to remain open are not being taken lightly, but are carefully measured against the impact of closures. The territory is trying not to go “too far, too fast.”

The Yukon’s mines are continuing to operate under careful guidance for safe practices, as their closure would result in “severe consequences,” Hanley said.

He provided a series of recommendations to maintain healthy well-being while social distancing.

He said Yukoners should continue connecting via social media, spending time outside, getting exercise and diving into new skills or hobbies.

People can still meet, talk and eat together as long as two-metre spacing is observed, Hanley added.

“If you’re getting stressed by COVID, take a COVID day off,” Hanley said.

He suggested tuning into the news once a day, rather than constantly seeking updates on the number of national cases.

Finally, Hanley encouraged Yukoners to reach out to Mental Wellness Substance Use Support, the Canadian Mental Health Association and private counsellors offering phone services. 

“Taking care of each other has never been as important to protect our collective mental health; be kind to people, look after each other,” Hanley said.

See commentaries, letters.

Comments (13)

Up 3 Down 6

lindsay on Mar 30, 2020 at 12:27 pm

Appreciate the information, Juniper

Up 12 Down 5

Yukon Cornelius on Mar 30, 2020 at 9:27 am

With the first documented case of COVID-19 disease traced back to November 17, 2019 (https://www.livescience.com/first-case-coronavirus-found.html) and while SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) raged through Hubei Province and Wuhan, China in December 2019 prompting global public health advisories by the World Health Organization, YG had 3 months to prepare and take steps to protect Yukoners.

Instead, the Sandy Silver Liberal Yukon Government left Yukon's front door wide open by continuing to allow 54 flights/week (7,067 passengers/week) from Vancouver International Airport to land at Whitehorse International Airport.

It doesn't take an Epidemiologist to understand that if you allow flights to land in Whitehorse after passengers have walked through the Vancouver Airport terminal where, since January 25, 2020 (the Lunar New Year celebrations) people were either receiving family from, or returning from visiting family in China (as is the custom during Lunar New Year celebrations) as the Coronavirus epidemic raged in China, that some 40 days later (coincidentally, the incubation period for COVID-19 disease) you're going to have people in the Yukon infected with Coronavirus and COVID-19 cases in Yukon's already over-stretched hospitals.

On March 13, 2020 when the Opposition Party demanded what actions Premier Silver was taking to address the Coronavirus global pandemic, Premier Silver called them: "Paranoid".
With 3 (confirmed) cases of Coronavirus in the Yukon, are we still 'paranoid', Mr. Premier?
Thanks to Sandy Silver's abject ineptitude, Yukoners will now have to make some serious choices as COVID-19 is expected to over-run its already stretched hospitals.

Thanks to another abjectly inept Liberal (in this case, Federal Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne), who shipped 16 tonnes of Canadian medical personal protective equipment (PPE) to China on February 4, 2020, our front line health care professionals face medical PPE shortages and are being/will be exposed to Coronavirus - thereby placing even more pressure on our health care system by reducing the number of health care professionals who can treat COVID-19 patients.



Thanks, Sandy! Thanks François-Philippe!

Up 7 Down 7

Katie on Mar 29, 2020 at 3:03 am

@Juniper Jackson

Thank you so much for sharing such valuable data in length. The info really puts this COVID-19 saga in clear perspective. I must admit I'm now more scared than I was before I read your detailed post. To think that many people even under our roofs do not believe this novel virus to be as deadly as it we've been warned by the global community just chills my spine.

If this " slippery lung eater " mutates that fast, then we'd be as good as wiped should the more hostile and vigorous strand reach our small area, let alone our immunocompromised populations. Most people just don't get it, we generally think of it as "just a flu" and that we could potentially be well equipped should disaster strike.

Although it seems like we have the mildest of the strands confirmed ( since all are "doing well " and recovering at home), it worth bracing for the worst. We might as well treat ourselves as though we had the virus so we can effectively minimize the spread and contagion.

May God help us all to help each other, as well as forgive those who decided to eat the most unusual creatures, injecting such terror across the globe.

Up 17 Down 10

Juniper Jackson on Mar 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm

I said in an earlier post, i didn't understand why this flu was a pandemic for 16K deaths, that I felt i didn't have the whole story. Another reader here emailed me this explanation about the Coronavirus. This is a repost. As many as possible should read it so we all understand why what is happening, is happening.

This is from an immunologist at Johns Hopkins University.
Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand...
It has to do with RNA sequencing.... I.e. genetics.
Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year... you get immunity two ways...through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.
Novel viruses, come from animals.... the WHO tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once, one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans... then it’s a problem, Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity.. the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.
Now.... sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human, for years it’s only transmission is from an infected animal to a human before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human... once that happens..we have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, thats what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s gonna be..
H1N1 was deadly....but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.
Fast forward.
Now, here comes this Coronavirus... it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long...but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person... But here is the scary part.... in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”
This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity). Took off like a rocket. And this was because, Humans have no known immunity...doctors have no known medicines for it.
And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way the way that it causes great damage to human lungs..
That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza.... this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater...And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain s, and strain L....which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.
We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.
Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed...(honestly...I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation...
And let me end by saying....right now it’s hitting older folks harder... but this genome is so slippery...if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.
Acting like you’re unafraid is Silly
Stay home folks... and share this because let’s be honest, some people just aren’t getting the message.

Up 17 Down 3

Dentist on Mar 27, 2020 at 4:37 pm

Dr. Hanley please don't keep your (our) cards so close to your chest. We need to know the flight number the people came in on even if there is the slightest chance they may have infected someone. Actually I am surprised and disappointed that that they haven't done this themselves.

I also think that you should name the community the third person infected came from. If it is Whitehorse, say so.

You obviously don't understand how tightly knit the communities are. If it is my community I want to know so that extra precautions can be taken and people in the community are not social distancing will really be encouraged to do so.

Up 10 Down 5

jc on Mar 27, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Mining industry guidance

Everyone arriving in Yukon must self-isolate for 14 days, including workers at placer or hard rock mines, exploration camps or conducting any other business or duty associated with the mining and exploration industry. Workers cannot carry out their regular duties in a camp or at a mine while they’re self-isolating.

So..people show up at Vic Gold..stay isolated in their room at camp for 14 days?? and get paid?? right!

Up 20 Down 73

Miles Epanhauser on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:40 am

Overheard a shopper say he had just got back from travelling, so much for self isolation.

Think in a weeks time we should back off restrictions if there has not been many cases. Time to reverse the shutdown and get business going again.

Up 7 Down 29

Justin on Mar 26, 2020 at 8:11 am

Something that has me curious. What other flu strains are being tested for, besides the obvious covid19? And what rates are we seeing of those strains?
An article today in the Ottawa citizen, tells of infection time, contagious periods, and recovery time to no longer being viably contagious. These numbers are said to vary, yes, but they aren’t nearly as concerning as the government’s reaction to this “pandemic”.
As more science is revealed, and more numbers from the original source of the outbreak become available, the measures in place become less realistic. Without definitive timelines, this whole reaction to the virus becomes more of a control exercise, than a genuine response aimed to keep people healthy.
I encourage people to read the article I mentioned, and develop your own opinions.

It can be found here.

Thank you.

Up 41 Down 1

Katie on Mar 26, 2020 at 2:39 am

This is scary. Indeed, we do need each other's support and it's good to know some mental health services are available by phone. We can only hope the situation does not quickly escalate, and that the Yukoners will uphold safety measures while it's still under control. Together, we can!

Up 35 Down 0

Calvin on Mar 25, 2020 at 7:28 pm

I think he was talking about taking a day off from stressing about Covid 19 and the news.

Up 19 Down 15

JC on Mar 25, 2020 at 5:52 pm

Our fearless leaders keep telling everybody not to panic. How do people do that when all the news is bad and discouraging. How about some good news to strengthen people's spirit. I mean, if there is no good news then expect global panic. It's like telling someone on his way to execution, "don't worry, it won't hurt a bit". Remember, " no news is good news". I want some "no news".

Up 44 Down 6

lefty on Mar 25, 2020 at 5:36 pm

There are people who don't listen to radio, don't use internet, don't read newspapers, who are not up to date on the virus, who continue to congregate in groups, drink out of the same bottle, and rely on hearsay. A couple of days ago it looked like people were self isolating, today Wednesday 25 it looked like business as usual. I came out of the elevator at my seniors residence, a social worker waiting walked in, there was no two meter distance. A couple of days ago there was a get together in the common room, with a social worker, sitting round a table that is no more 2" 6" wide. Today I watched a group of street people drink out of the same bottle. We need loud speakers around town on all main area announcing the rules, the dangers and the penalties.

Up 29 Down 165

Matthew on Mar 25, 2020 at 3:34 pm

“If you’re getting stressed by COVID, take a COVID day off,” Hanley said. Under a Rock there? 80% of the city is off work cause 3 people have a cough or the sniffles in March...

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