Whitehorse Daily Star

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Dr. Brendan Hanley

Yukon witnesses its largest surge of COVID-19

The Yukon confirmed 11 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, the chief medical officer announced today.

By Gabrielle Plonka on November 23, 2020

The Yukon confirmed 11 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, the chief medical officer announced today.

The territory’s total is now 38 cases, with 14 active cases. Two people are receiving treatment at the Whitehorse General Hospital.

“We are doing a lot of work to contain these outbreaks,” Dr. Brendan Hanley told a late-morning media briefing.

The Yukon has seen 14 new cases in the last week, representing the largest surge of COVID-19 in the territory since the pandemic began.

About 200 people were tested over the weekend, with 170 tests pending results.

More cases may appear from those weekend tests, and as investigations continue, Hanley explained.

Six hundred people were tested in the last two weeks, with a 2.5 per cent positivity rate.

Turnaround time for test results is currently two to three days.

The chief medical officer said his office is relying on the “tried and true” methods of self-isolation, testing and contact tracing to mitigate spread.

A drive-thru testing station was opened on Sunday to meet increased demand for tests. The station will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. until this Saturday, when Hanley’s office will reassess its necessity.

The drive-thru is located at Centennial Motors, which is on the Alaska Highway beside the Airport Chalet.

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should arrange for testing via the COVID-19 Testing Assessment Centre phone line.

A public exposure notification was also issued for Better Bodies on Nov. 14, between 12 and 2:30 p.m. and Nov. 16 between 5 and 7 a.m.

People who visited the gym at those times are asked to self-monitor for symptoms.

Health officials are investigating two outbreaks that encompass 10 recent cases, Hanley explained this morning.

The first outbreak began with a travel-related case who was in contact with two other individuals, and then transmission within a household.

Case numbers 24, 25, 38, 33, 34 and two probable cases are associated with the first outbreak.

The second outbreak began with case 26 within a shared household, with transmission to other household contacts. Hanley said there hasn’t been a confirmed travel connection associated with the second outbreak.

Case numbers 26, 30, 31, 37 and 38 are associated with the second outbreak.

Case number 32 is an individual who returned from travel, and is not associated with the outbreaks.

Two recent cases are in individuals under the age of nine. One of those cases may be related to a daycare, with that investigation still underway.

The average age of infected individuals is 32 years old. Fourteen of the cases are in Whitehorse, and two are outside Whitehorse.

Hanley said that all active cases have suspected links to travel, which means there isn’t community transmission.

“Our goal is to contain COVID as much as possible in the territory, and prevent or minimize community spread,” Hanley said.

The medical officer said people should keep contacts to a minimum at this time – sticking within household bubbles, limiting gatherings and upholding safe workplace procedures.

Active public exposure notifications include:

Better Bodies on Nov. 12 between 6:30 and closing time, Nov. 13 between 6:30 and closing, Nov. 14 between 12 and 2:30 p.m.; and Nov. 16 between 5 and 7 a.m.;

Save-On-Foods on Nov. 6 before 1 p.m.;

A&W on Nov. 8 between 3 and 6:30 p.m.;

Listers Motor Sports on Nov. 10 between 8:30 a.m. and 12 p.m.;

Tony’s Pasta and Seafood House on Nov. 14 between 7 and 9:30 p.m.;

Giorgio’s Cuccina on Nov. 14 between 7 and 9:30 p.m.;

Diwali Festival at 120 Copper Rd. on Nov. 14 between 3 and 6 p.m.;

Starbucks Main Street on Nov. 12 and 13 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.; and

Starbucks Chilkoot Way on Nov. 14 between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, as of late this morning, Nunavut was reporting134 confirmed cases of the virus, with two resolved.

Comments (20)

Up 10 Down 19

Juniper Jackson on Nov 25, 2020 at 5:59 pm

Patti: :) I am so far from sweet on Hanley that it borders on venomous. However..I saw way back when where he was trying to go. I was hoping that strategy would work, while knowing it would not. He came pretty close though. I've been nagging for a long time that maybe in addition to trying NOT to contract it, people should prepare themselves and their families for contracting it. I talk about my covid box.. I would have liked to see the government put out a flyer on: Covid? you or the family? Stay comfortable as possible with: decongestants, Tylonol, throat sprays, Vicks, caugh drops. Electroyte drinks, juice freezee pops for the kids (and you too) masks, gloves, and all the items a person would be more comfortable with if ill. I'd like to see a release.. Covid is coming: strengthen your immune system with: What? Vit C? Vit D? Fruit , vegetables? I think it's different for everyone. But all we've had is scare tactics and that was a very successful campaign.. people ARE afraid. They are afraid they will die or that they will have everlasting health problems. The biggest problem we face is a government who has imposed unlimitied emergency measures on a quiet little community. It's like they are inviting pushback.

Up 18 Down 4

Michelle on Nov 25, 2020 at 2:02 pm

I would like to know where these people were traveling from. Was it BC? or did any travel to other locations? if they did travel past BC, why did they not self-isolate? Also, if that is the case, I hope they get charged for not self-isolating.

Up 15 Down 7

Arlene on Nov 25, 2020 at 8:36 am

Not sure I heard this right but on Monday morning on the radio I heard the announcer say that Dr. Hanley is giving Yukoner’s that are outside until Friday Nov 27 to come home without self isolating, and that essential workers coming back also do not have to self isolate. If I heard correctly what is Dr. Hanley thinking? Should not everyone coming home self isolate? Are these individuals immune to Covid-19? Dr. Hanley, what were you thinking! Really give your head a shake!!
And those being tested are they told to go home and stay there until they get the results, if not they should be told and if so, those not doing so should be fined.
Now regarding masks, I am not an anti masker however I am not convinced that wearing a mask at all indoor public places is the way to go. People are not wearing them properly, and if one reads the way to handle the mask “try not to touch the mask again until you remove it. Wash hands immediate removing the mask”. Now how is that possible when removing the mask while walking out of the store and then stuffing it in your pocket to pull out to wear in the next store. And I see people wearing the mask only covering their mouth.
Even when you watch the news—I see John Horgan with his mask on then coming up the mike to speak removing his mask and stuffing it in his pocket, and when done pull it out to put on again.
So how is wearing a mask going to help if we are not wearing and handling it properly, and using a scarf instead of a proper mask, really? And to all those people who wear disposable masks please do not leave them in the store buggy or litter. Please be considerate.
I do believe that wearing a mask while visiting those who are at risk is essential.
I believe that social distancing and washing hands frequently is still the best way to keep this at bay. We need to learn to live with Covid-19, it is not going away anytime soon. Instilling fear should never be an option. Have respect for it, and stay at home if unwell.

Up 11 Down 28

Joe on Nov 24, 2020 at 9:13 pm

@lockdown.. we totally disagree with you. That gym owner called it right, people need to take responsibility for their own actions. Has nothing to do with location. If they went to gym you can be sure they went to a dozen other locations too. I bet you wear a homemade mask and believe you may be helping others.

Up 21 Down 6

Kris Janus on Nov 24, 2020 at 6:23 pm

I had an appointment @ Whse. Gen.Hosp. was I in for a surprise! Fellow @ the front door asking you about symptoms was NOT wearing a mask! Receptionist didn't have masks, staff doing the procedure were NOT wearing masks! They are in public & going into work without masks doesn't make sense to me.
Same here in Dawson hospital, receptionist & the fellow @ the entrance asking questions not wearing masks. Dr.Hanley what's up with that??

Up 9 Down 4

DA on Nov 24, 2020 at 12:30 pm

On the other hand, Martin, if people know that they'll be named they may decide to not get tested...

Up 25 Down 0

Just Sayin' on Nov 24, 2020 at 8:37 am

Whitehorse Star should review or reword the line:

"Hanley said that all active cases have suspected links to travel, which means there isn’t community transmission."
I think the Star is misinterpreting what Hanley said. I read in another article which indicated that community transmission has not been ruled out at this point. There could very well be community transmission in Whitehorse, even if the known cases are suspected to be linked to travel. There may be unknown cases that were caused by community transmission.

Up 9 Down 14

Patti Eyre on Nov 24, 2020 at 6:37 am

@jackson this is a nice turnaround! Previously you were all fire and brimstone toward Dr Hanley now you are sweet on him. Forgiveness is God’s medicine, we shall all get through this together!

Up 24 Down 32

Mike on Nov 23, 2020 at 7:37 pm

It seems to me that Dr. Hanely is speaking from a script instead of addressing the people of the Yukon. We asked for border closures so that NOBODY could come in flying or driving but that seems to be an impossible task. Every word that comes out of this guys mouth to me is horse manure and I believe he has no clue what to do but let's be clear on something. We are talking about a daycare which my granddaughters attend who probably have older siblings going to public school. Privacy issues end when kids are in danger. This is absolute nonsense and negligence on the good doctors part to not disclose what daycare. This government has done Zero to protect its residents and listening to Hanley is repetitive. Close the schools - protect the Yukons most precious commodity, our children.

Up 36 Down 7

comen sense on Nov 23, 2020 at 7:10 pm

How is that Basketball Team in the front page social distancing?

Up 31 Down 9

Margaret Brady on Nov 23, 2020 at 6:38 pm

I believe that we have done a good job of controlling infections but perhaps should have considered breaking the bubble with BC when their cases started surging. My other concern is that since about 50% of infections are reportedly linked to asymptomatic cases, shouldn’t we be testing asymptomatic individuals as well as those with symptoms?

Up 33 Down 20

Christina on Nov 23, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Should never have opened the bubble. And all the people supposedly traveling "through" the Yukon to or from Alaska that shopped/ate downtown despite being told not to...

Up 29 Down 3

Guncache on Nov 23, 2020 at 5:13 pm

Self isolation anywhere in Canada is a joke. Isolation has to be in a controlled setting. I don't like that idea but what's the alternative? I happened to call the 811 number today and got connected to Vancouver, WTH

Up 26 Down 67

Matthew on Nov 23, 2020 at 5:11 pm

if no one got tested covid wouldn't even exist.. merely dismiss it as the common flu at worst.. besides, who says they can't make numbers up anyways. Not exactly like we have the most transparent government in charge.. lol! Get over it folks, it's not going to kill you.

Up 33 Down 31

donna johnston on Nov 23, 2020 at 4:51 pm

Close the borders now - please.

Up 35 Down 2

Peet Donovan on Nov 23, 2020 at 4:49 pm

How can it not be community spread, when some of the cases are linked??

If all of them don’t come in separately from outside Yukon, but they know each other, isn’t it community spread then? Could somebody at the news clarify this next time Dr. Hanley holds the conference, please!

Up 49 Down 12

Lock down on Nov 23, 2020 at 4:33 pm

Just heard the owner of the gym on the radio blaming everything and everyone else but himself. Not a good look for him.

Of course gyms would be a high propensity for transmission, it only been dumb luck up to this point that we haven’t seen community spread out of there.
Let’s do a 14 day lock down and clean up this mess before the holiday season. We will see dozens, if not hundreds of cases before year end if we don’t.

Up 11 Down 23

Sandy Jamesen on Nov 23, 2020 at 4:01 pm

Juniper Jackson, I hope you use more common sense in the future. It’s much worse than you seem to think.

Up 23 Down 15

martin on Nov 23, 2020 at 3:55 pm

I don't know if I am friends/acquainted with number 33, 34, 22, 35 or whatever number the "good" doctor throws at us. About time we learn from Skagway and make it easier to trace. Also, if they know they will be named, people might, just might be more careful.

Up 77 Down 42

Juniper Jackson on Nov 23, 2020 at 2:58 pm

I'm sorry to read this. How did infected people get into so many places? From BC? Didn't have to isolate? Or, just no symptoms?

From the moment Taiwan informed WHO in Oct 2019 that they saw a pattern, and WHO did nothing until January. It was already too big to be contained. It was just a matter of time. I would hope everyone has their 'covid' box. Mine has electrolyte drinks, throat sprays, decongestant, Tylenol, masks, gloves. Several other items I think I might need to be comfortable. After all, the death rate is very small. But, any illness has a high discomfort rate and I assume, i will eventually contract Covid if I continue to live my life. But, I also assume, despite my advanced age, that I will recover. Too many people think if they contract covid..it's game over, you're gonna die.. Not true.. 99.3% of you are going to live. That being said.. I was hoping Hanley's strategy of keeping the wolf from the door until a vaccine came out, was going to work.. even though I thought it couldn't be contained.. Came pretty close though Hanley.. should have kept BC locked down.

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