Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Returning students and seasonal workers encouraged to get the vaccine while self-isolating in Yukon

Yukon health care system has few resources to offer to struggling provinces, said Hanley.

Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley provided guidance for self-isolation and encouraged young people — including those returning to the territory after school or for work — to get their vaccines at a press conference April 21.

On April 19, a new case was announced in Watson Lake and associated with Outside travel.

An exposure notice was released for Andrea’s Restaurant, Alaska Hwy Truckers Pub and Grill for the breakfast sitting from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.

“Our newest case has already reached the recovery period,” Hanley said, adding that the person was nearing the end of their self-isolation period when they disregarded the requirements.

Hanley also addressed the situation in the provinces, where caseloads are surging.

Hanley said he would support health workers who feel the need to deploy to COVID-19 hot zones, but he said it is unlikely that the Yukon has the capacity to send professionals like nurses to Ontario.

“Our hearts go out to Ontario,” said Hanley, adding that the Yukon’s own resources are stretched fairly thin. “The healthcare delivery during COVID times is particularly challenging.”

“Unlike our partners along the country we are much further along in our vaccine campaign, but we still have a way to go,” Hanley said.

As of yesterday, 25,216 people have had their first shot, around 71 per cent of the eligible adult population in the territory. Hanley said numbers are continuing to increase. The rate of vaccination is still lowest among young people.

Hanley said importation still remains the biggest risk factor in bringing COVID-19 to the territory.

He noted that students will soon be returning from school and the territory will be welcoming back seasonal workers. He emphasized all will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

“Our tool has been, and remains, self-isolating to prevent the spread of COVID in the territory,” he said.

Returning people can be vaccinated while in self-isolation. In order to do so safely, the individuals must book an appointment, get a same-day negative rapid test result, and must return to self-isolation afterward.

The guidelines have also changed for self-isolation, due to variants having higher transmission rates.

People returning from travel are now strongly recommended to self-isolate alone or with travel companions only. If self-isolation is taking place in a shared household, all members of the household should be self-isolating.

Hanley said the exception is a household of fully vaccinated adults, which could allow for a shared household to isolate a person separately when social distancing can be maintained.

“Variants have changed the picture and the risk,” said Hanley. “The new approach is my strong recommendation but is not a part of CEMA orders.”

In the Northwest Territories, individuals with both shots of the vaccine are now only required to isolate for eight days. Hanley said the Yukon will be investigating options for how the vaccination rates will change restrictions and isolation requirements.

He said we are approaching the level of vaccination that will allow for some “easing of measures” over the summer, and details will be released soon.

Some restrictions are now being eased in long-term care homes. These include planning community outings and an increase to the allowed number of visitors. Hanley said these changes will hopefully be brought in by May 3.

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

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