The Whitehorse General Hospital is seen on Aug. 2, 2022. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

The Whitehorse General Hospital is seen on Aug. 2, 2022. (Dana Hatherly/Yukon News)

Untimely care, delayed diagnosis resulted from COVID-19 measures: Yukon health officials

Memo states these public health measures “are not currently warranted and may be detrimental to care”

Untimely medical care and delayed diagnoses have been the unintended outcomes of COVID-19 measures in primary care settings, according to a memo between Yukon health officials.

The Yukon has been rolling back COVID-19 measures in primary care settings this summer.

A memo signed by Paul Hasselback, locum territorial medical officer of health, and Jan McFadzen, Yukon Communicable Disease Control clinical manager, contains an update on infection control measures in primary care settings. It is dated June 17 and addressed to all health-care providers.

“Previous COVID-19 measures have restricted patients from accessing timely medical attention and have unfortunately led to some unintended outcomes such as delayed diagnosis,” reads the memo.

The memo states the focus of COVID-19 control is about preventing severe outcomes and hospitalization as opposed to containment of the virus.

“With the development of an effective vaccine to reduce disease severity combined with changes in the virus to variants that are more transmissible but less virulent (for example, Omicron), these public health measures are not currently warranted and may be detrimental to care.”

The memo indicates COVID-19 will likely be dubbed a seasonal respiratory virus much like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. It states a “return to normal” operations is underway.

That means COVID-19 vaccines and all other vaccines will continue being recommended to staff and patients and medical masks will be encouraged in the clinic, according to the memo. In July, the territorial government followed through on a recommendation by Dr. Sudit Ranade, the chief medical officer of health, to end its remaining COVID-19 vaccine requirements for workers, volunteers and contractors working in high-risk settings.

In the memo, clients presenting with respiratory symptoms will be expected to wear a medical mask or be accommodated through isolation.

Medical masks will be recommended for all medical and non-medical clinical staff. Medical staff are also being advised to use eye protection and other forms of personal protective equipment based on their point-of-care risk assessment, which is guided by exposure to blood, bodily fluids and airborne or aerosol risk.

Physical distancing and occupancy limits are no longer expected, while the use of plexi-glass and screeners is optional.

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