Yukoners should follow new risk reduction measures to limit the community spread of COVID-19 after self-isolating, according to new recommendations put forward by the Yukon government.
The Yukon’s chief medical health officer has made recommendations to case and contact management and lab-based PCR testing guidelines.
“Most people can manage their illness at home and a diagnostic level lab-based PCR test is not necessary as it will not impact their treatment or the outcome of their infection,” Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Hasselback said in the release.
“Yukoners do not need a test to do the right thing and stay home when they are feeling sick. As we continue the re-opening process, help others stay healthy and respect their comfort levels and boundaries.”
In the release, effective immediately, a person’s vaccination status no longer impacts how long they need to be self-isolating.
A risk reduction period is now recommended following self-isolation.
Contacts should self-monitor for symptoms, but do not need to self-isolate after being in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.
Lab-based PCR testing eligibility criteria is now consistent throughout the territory.
Regardless of vaccination status, all Yukoners who have tested positive for COVID-19 are recommended to self-isolate for seven days if they are not immunocompromised, followed by three days of risk reduction or 10 days if they are moderately or severely immunocompromised, followed by 10 days of risk reduction.
That means reducing the level of risk by wearing a mask in public settings, avoiding activities in which masks cannot be worn and steering clear of people who are immunocompromised, at high risk of illness or in high-risk settings.
High-risk settings include long-term care homes, hospitals, health-care centres, shelters and the correctional centre.
Yukoners can exit isolation after they have completed the recommended self-isolation period if they have no fever for 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medication) and other symptoms have been getting better for 24 hours, or 48 hours if experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
A negative at-home rapid antigen test is not required to leave isolation if all the above mentioned conditions are being met.
As noted in the release, the isolation of contacts does not significantly reduce the rate of spread given the high rate of community-level transmission occurring in the Yukon. For this reason, it is now being recommended that all contacts (regardless of vaccination status) monitor for symptoms for 14 days after being exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“High community transmission occurs when we are not able to provide epidemiological links between positive COVID-19 cases,” Samantha Henney, the manager of COVID-19 communications, explained in a June 9 email.
“At this time, many positive cases cannot be linked back to a known exposure, such as an event, location or positive case. The data used to track community transmission includes lab-based PCR testing numbers, test positivity rate and numbers from our respiratory surveillance programs.”
The release indicates the Omicron wave of COVID-19 has contributed to lower hospitalization rates and less severe outcomes.
“Combined with a high rate of vaccination across the territory, most Yukoners can now safely manage their illness at home,” reads the release.
Lab-based PCR testing will continue to be an option for those who are at risk of getting very sick or those who work in high-risk settings, including front-line health-care workers, people and staff in congregate living settings, Yukoners over age 50, pregnant people, those at risk of severe illness and people who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
People with a higher risk of severe outcomes should continue to work with their health-care provider, local health-care centre or the nearest emergency department to figure out their COVID-19 treatment.
“The updated guidance will help ensure that we continue to protect vulnerable people in our community from severe illness while reducing the impact these measures have on the lives of Yukoners,” Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee said in the release.
The release indicates vaccines and booster shots remain the best protection against serious or severe outcomes related to COVID-19.
Contact Dana Hatherly at firstname.lastname@example.org