A healthcare worker collects a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19, in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 5. The presumptive COVID-19 case that had Whitehorse high school students isolating as a precaution has come back negative from the southern lab. (Ivan Valencia/AP)

A healthcare worker collects a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19, in Bogota, Colombia, Jan. 5. The presumptive COVID-19 case that had Whitehorse high school students isolating as a precaution has come back negative from the southern lab. (Ivan Valencia/AP)

Presumptive COVID-19 case declared false-positive after lab tests

Self-isolation has ended for 48 people connected to the individual

The presumptive COVID-19 case that had Whitehorse high school students isolating as a precaution has come back negative from the southern lab.

“We took a very proactive approach after hearing this individual had received a positive result outside of the territory. We asked all identified contacts to self-isolate to avoid potential spread of the disease,” said Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley in a release.

“We are relieved and very grateful for the cooperation of this person and their close contacts and are pleased that further confirmatory testing is negative. Our ability to identify contacts and to respond rapidly to possible cases is one of the reasons we have remained with low COVID-19 activity in the territory,” he said.

What would have been case #71, had it been confirmed, was identified as a possible positive case during a press conference on Jan. 7.

The GeneXpert rapid test kit is less reliable than the “gold standard” polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests done in southern labs, so the case was presumed positive until confirmation.

The negative test result came in the afternoon of Jan. 7 and was released end of day the next day.

The negative result was likely a relief to the person’s 48 contacts who had been asked to go into self-isolation following the false positive. It will also be a relief to parents and students, who were notified in a Jan. 6 email that some of the individuals asked to go into self-isolation were high school age.

Hanley said contact tracing identified many potential contacts at indoor and outdoor social gatherings that were held over the holidays and didn’t follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Hanley said it was important not to view the person as “an infector” since evidence was lacking in how they would have contracted the virus. He said the person was not meant to be in self-isolation.

Premier Sandy Silver refused to confirm whether any Civil Emergency Measures Act charges would be laid in connection to the holiday gatherings.

The territory has had two separate COVID-19 outbreaks related to travel since the new year started. As of Jan. 12 the territory had a total of six active cases and 70 total confirmed cases since the pandemic began.

At a press conference last week, Hanley said he expected more cases.

“I will be surprised if we don’t see more, with individuals coming home for Christmas or other family members visiting. Combined with the continued surge of cases down south, we anticipated that we will see more cases,” Hanley said.

Updated vaccination numbers have also been added to the government website. As of 3 p.m. on Jan. 12 just under 500 total vaccine doses had been administered.

Last week vaccinations took place at Whistle Bend Place. This week immunizations are scheduled to begin at McDonald Lodge as well as for high-risk health care staff in Dawson and the Whitehorse General Hospital.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

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