Half of the total number of deaths due to COVID-19 occurred during the Omicron wave, seven people died during each of the earlier Delta and Gamma waves, and two mortalities fall under “other” waves, according to a recent memo.
The Nov. 10 memo is addressed to health-care providers and signed by Dr. Sudit Ranade, the chief medical officer of health, and Jan McFadzen, Yukon Communicable Disease Control clinical manager. It gives an update on COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths in the territory since the start of the pandemic.
In the memo, people with two or more chronic medical conditions or over 60-years-old made up 88 per cent of deaths due to COVID-19 in the Yukon. Sixteen per cent of all deaths due to COVID-19 in the Yukon were in individuals whose only identified risk factor was being over the age of 60.
The memo praises vaccines for limiting the rate of hospitalizations and deaths.
“Vaccination has dramatically reduced the risk of severe outcomes in most age groups, with some residual risk among all age groups primarily in the unvaccinated, but also in those with two or more chronic conditions,” reads the memo.
Most hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 have occurred among people who were not up to date with COVID-19 vaccinations.
As previously reported by the News, a June 9 memo to health-care providers states people who are not up to date with vaccinations overall make up 79 per cent of hospitalizations and 92 per cent of deaths.
The data is not broken down by number of doses and booster shots.
In the memo, two hospitalizations of children under the age of nine make up the 57 hospitalizations since Dec. 19, 2021, during the Omicron wave. That’s a difference of 29 hospitalizations since the June 9 memo.
That compares to eight hospitalizations before May 15, 2021, which are categorized under “other” waves; 69 hospitalizations during the Gamma wave from May 15 to Aug. 21, 2021; and 39 hospitalizations during the Delta wave from Aug. 22 to Dec. 18, 2021.
Despite attempts to obtain more details about the death toll, the department of Health and Social Services has declined to release additional information to the News.
A May 16 response to an access-to-information request submitted by the News said the Yukon’s department of Health and Social Services is withholding access in full to records relating to COVID-19 death-related data beyond the number of deaths, including a request for death-related data broken down by vaccination status (which was later released in the June 9 memo).
The News had also requested death-related data broken down by age, location and whether the person died in hospital or long-term care.
The reason given for withholding the information cites “personal health information held by a public body under its authority and in relation to its function as a custodian.”
“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to families, friends and the community of every person who has died from COVID-19,” COVID-19 communications manager Samantha Henney said in a Nov. 28 email statement.
“The majority of deaths are among people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations, who have risk factors or other co-morbidities that put them at risk for more severe disease and who are in older age groups.”
The email statement encourages Yukoners to stay up to date on their vaccinations as the best protection against COVID-19 and serious outcomes such as hospitalization and death.
Thirty-two people have died due to COVID-19 since the Yukon’s first death was reported in October 2020. As of the Nov. 10 memo, there had been 173 hospitalizations and 4,908 cases of COVID-19 reported to Yukon Communicable Disease Control.
Ranade, who appeared as a witness on Nov. 14, told the Yukon Legislative Assembly the territory can expect a spike in respiratory illnesses similar to other parts of the country while the COVID-19 pandemic is still at play.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org