Deputy premier Ranj Pillai in the legislative assembly on March 7, 2019. Pillai is being tested for COVID-19 and will self-isolate until the results are clear. Premier Sandy Silver, right, will not be attending the First Ministers’ Meeting this week. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon minister Ranj Pillai being tested for coronavirus

Premier Sandy Silver formally announced the situation on March 11

Yukon deputy premier Ranj Pillai is being tested for COVID-19 after attending a mining conference in Toronto where another attendee later tested positive for the virus.

Premier Sandy Silver made the announcement in a statement March 11.

“I understand that the Public Service Commission is also reaching out to employees who attended this event to share relevant information,” it says.

“Yukoners, I urge you to remain calm and to follow the advice of credible medical professionals.”

Pillai is quarantining himself until tests come back, the statement says.

According to the Globe and Mail, a Sudbury, Ont. man in his 50s tested positive for the virus after attending the annual conference of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada on March 2 and 3.

Both Pillai and Silver were at the conference.

Pillai, who is also minister of energy mines and resources as well as economic development, was absent from the legislative assembly on March 11. Silver was present.

Pauline Frost, minister of health and social services, repeatedly dodged questions from reporters about his absence after question period earlier in the day.

“I’m not going to respond to that question right now,” she said. “What I can say is there were some 40 Yukoners that attended PDAC and the chief medical officer is working with those individuals. At this point in time what she’s advising is those individuals that were at PDAC to self-quarantine for three days and get themselves tested.”

In a statement today acting chief medical officer Dr. Catherine Elliott said that conference attendees who do not show symptoms can go about their regular day-to-day activities.

However, if they develop symptoms including cough, fever or shortness of breath they should stay home and contact Yukon Communicable Disease Control to arrange for testing.

Silver also announced he will not be meeting with counterparts in Ottawa at the First Ministers’ Meeting this week.

“At this time, I feel my efforts are needed here at home,” he says in the statement.

“Obviously, this is an extremely rare situation and this is a precautionary measure. We see great value in these meetings and merit in attending. Today I spoke directly with the Prime Minister and am confident Yukon priorities will be shared at the meeting.”

Silver has repeatedly said this week that the risk of the virus in the Yukon remains low. There are no confirmed cases in the territory.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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