Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, during a press conference on March 27. As case numbers rise dramatically in Nunavut and British Columbia, Yukon officials are urging caution and considering a new mask policy while preparing for the eventual roll-out of a vaccine. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, during a press conference on March 27. As case numbers rise dramatically in Nunavut and British Columbia, Yukon officials are urging caution and considering a new mask policy while preparing for the eventual roll-out of a vaccine. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Caution and masks urged as COVID-19 cases rise in Nunavut and B.C.

“Canada’s second wave of COVID-19 is reaching the territories”

As COVID-19 case numbers rise dramatically in Nunavut and British Columbia, Yukon officials are urging caution and considering a new mask policy while preparing for the eventual roll-out of a vaccine.

Premier Sandy Silver said Yukoners need to remember the threat of the pandemic, particularly in light of three new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed in the territory this past week.

“The new case, combined with the dramatic increase in cases in Nunavut in the past week is a stark reminder that we are still in the grips of this pandemic,” Silver said. “Canada’s second wave of COVID-19 is reaching the territories and we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to protect our communities.”

The two new COVID-19 cases confirmed on Nov. 12 and Nov. 17 are connected to travel outside of the B.C. and Northwest Territory bubble, according to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley

He said the first individual “did everything right” in terms of isolating and getting tested, but the potential exposures in A&W and Save On Foods occurred prior to the onset of symptoms.

A second case was confirmed Nov. 17 and was linked to case number 24. A public exposure notice was issued for Lister’s Motor Sports in addition to previously published information on A&W and Save-On-Foods.

“Contact tracing is still being carried out with some testing of contacts and it is possible we’ll see further cases associated with this case,” said Hanley at the COVID-19 update, prior to case number 25.

Hanley said the individual being identified as case number 24, “is doing well.”

A third person, a non-Yukon resident, was also diagnosed inside the territory and is currently recovering in isolation. Because the person is a visitor, rather than a resident, that case will not count towards the territory’s totals.

“Contact tracing again has been carried out with some testing of higher risk contacts and there are no identified cases linked to this one,” Hanley said.

Case counts continue to rise across the country, with large increases in both B.C. and Nunavut.

“Whether cases are Yukoners or outsiders, we remain fortunate that all our cases to-date are linked to travel and we continue to have no evidence of community spread,” he said. “From our viewpoint, it almost seems like we’re in the eye of some huge global COVID cyclone. I certainly understand the stress and anxiety this is causing for us.”

Hanley cautioned Yukoners to follow public health advice coming out of B.C. as the province moves into heavier restrictions. He said only essential travel should take place, and that those who travel within the bubble should “maintain a low profile” and watch for symptoms when they return.

Hanley said no cases within the territory have been related to travel in B.C. since the bubble was established on July 1.

Silver added that there is an option to require self-isolation for certain areas of B.C. rather than the entire province. He used the lower mainland as an example, where cases are surging in comparison to Vancouver Island or the interior.

“When it comes to regions that we’ve already opened up like B.C., for example, we could have certain sections of provinces revert, if we felt that there was a problem,” he said. “So we are monitoring the current situation.”

Hanley also referenced the rising case counts in Nunavut and said the two jurisdictions are sharing detailed information. He noted that the territory has a strict border closure in place, but has still seen cases spread.

“I think one of the lessons is that if we focus solely on borders and self-quarantine measures and entry, and don’t pay attention to the rest, we can quickly see problems arise,” he said.

“The critical thing is what we do to prevent transmission. How we prevent cases from becoming outbreaks, how we prevent outbreaks from becoming large outbreaks, or multiple outbreaks, or turning into community transmission,” he said.

Hanley said a territory-wide mask policy is being carefully considered, but no changes are taking place yet. He suggested Yukoners wear masks when unable to physically distance and recommended buying reusable non-medical masks for those who don’t yet have them.

“I am in conversation with the government about potential masking policies for the territory for enclosed public spaces. I know and see that more and more people are using masks in public settings. I know there is public readiness for direction in this regard,” he said.

“Rather than me advising the government to do this overnight, there are many considerations to address,” Hanley said.

Silver said the federal government and provinces and territories are working closely together on preparations for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Like people all around the globe, we are anxiously anticipating an approval of a vaccine,” Silver said. “Plans for the territory are already underway. This includes identifying storage space, the number of required doses, staff requirements and plans for distribution.”

Silver said the seasonal flu vaccine — unrelated to a COVID-19 vaccine — have seen an uptick this year. So far 10,830 Yukoners have received their flu shot, compared to a Yukon-wide total of 11,864 people last year.

Finally, residents in long-term care homes will now be able to designate two additional family or friends to be added to their visitor list.

Two new Civil Emergency Measures Act charges were laid on Nov. 12 and Nov. 15 for failures to self-isolate.

Contact Haley Ritchie at


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Liberal leader Sandy Silver speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Dawson City following early poll results on April 12. (Robin Sharp/Yukon News)
BREAKING: Minority government results will wait on tie vote in Vuntut Gwitchin

The Yukon Party and the Liberal Party currently have secured the same amount of seats

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
YUKONOMIST: The Neapolitan election

Do you remember those old bricks of Neapolitan ice cream from birthday… Continue reading

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Exposure notice issued for April 3 Air North flight

Yukon Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley has issued another… Continue reading

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Runners in the Yukon Arctic Ultra marathon race down the Yukon River near the Marwell industrial area in Whitehorse on Feb. 3, 2019.
Cold-weather exercise hard on the lungs

Amy Kenny Special to the Yukon News It might make you feel… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
This week at city hall

A look at issues discussed by Whitehorse city council at its April 6 meeting.

Today’s Mailbox: Rent freezes and the youth vote

Dear Editor, I read the article regarding the recommendations by the Yukon… Continue reading

Point-in-Time homeless count planned this month

Volunteers will count those in shelters, short-term housing and without shelter in a 24-hour period.

The Yukon’s new ATIPP Act came into effect on April 1. Yukoners can submit ATIPP requests online or at the Legislative Assembly building. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News file)
New ATIPP Act in effect as of April 1

The changes promise increased government transparency

A new conservancy in northern B.C. is adjacent to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (Courtesy BC Parks)
Ice Mountain Lands near Telegraph Creek, B.C., granted conservancy protection

The conservancy is the first step in a multi-year Tahltan Stewardship Initiative

Yukon RCMP reported a child pornography-related arrest on April 1. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press file)
Whitehorse man arrested on child pornography charges

The 43-year-old was charged with possession of child pornography and making child pornography

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The postponed 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been rescheduled for Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
New dates set for Arctic Winter Games

Wood Buffalo, Alta. will host event Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, 2023

Victoria Gold Corp. has contributed $1 million to the First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun after six months of production at the Eagle Gold Mine. (Submitted/Victoria Gold Corp.)
Victoria Gold contributes $1 million to First Nation of Na-cho Nyak Dun

Victoria Gold signed a Comprehensive Cooperation and Benefits Agreement in 2011

Most Read