The Yukon government has announced three new cases of COVID-19 in the territory, all of them in Watson Lake.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced the cases at a teleconference the evening of Oct. 23.
The three people who tested positive are part of the same family, Hanley said, and the origin of the infection is still being investigated.
The government received the information the night of Oct. 22 and contact tracing is underway.
The family has no direct history of travelling outside the territory.
The government has identified Watson Lake due to possible public exposure at three locations in town:
- Watson Lake Foods – Super A between Oct. 8 and Oct. 16;
- Home Hardware between Oct. 7 and Oct. 10;
- and Big Horn Motel between Oct. 7 and Oct. 9 and again from Oct. 13 to 20.
Anyone who visited those businesses on those dates should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms, Hanley said, and get tested should any manifest.
The concern, he explained, is possible person-to-person transmission; as long as COVID-19 precautions are followed, people can safely visit those businesses now.
People in Watson Lake can contact the community hospital at 867-536-4444 to arrange for testing. Other Yukoners can contact the COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre in Whitehorse at 867-393-3083 or their community health centre.
Hanley acknowledged that it may be difficult for someone to remember the exact date they visited a particular place, especially if it was more than two weeks ago. In general, though, he said that people should be monitoring themselves for things like a dry cough, fever, loss of smell or taste and shortness of breath, even if they haven’t been to any identified places of possible public exposure.
“If you have symptoms, we want you to get tested anyway,” he said.
The Watson Lake family is “doing fine,” he said, and are “safely in self-isolation at home.”
More information on the investigation into the origin of the cases is expected at the government’s next regularly-scheduled COVID-19 update.
While there’s no need for alarm, Hanley said that the cases are an important reminder to maintain the “Safe Six” — keeping physical distance with people outside your “bubble,” frequent hand-washing, staying home if you’re feeling sick, following gathering guidelines, limiting travel to rural communities, and self-isolating as required — because we never know when COVID may occur in a community.
The new cases bring the Yukon’s total COVID-19 count to 20. It brings the number of incidents of COVID-19 infection in one of the Yukon’s communities to four.
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story listed the second set of dates for the Big Horn Motel as Oct. 13 to 16. The Yukon government has since changed the latter end of that range to Oct. 20.