Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukon ‘well-prepared’ for vaccine arrival, says premier

Moderna vaccine approved by Health Canada

Premier Sandy Silver says the Yukon is “well-prepared” for the arrival of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19.

Silver made the statement at the Dec. 22 weekly COVID-19 update for the territory, a day before the vaccine received formal approval from Health Canada. The approval was announced the morning of Dec. 23.

“Health Canada received Moderna’s submission on October 12, 2020, and after a thorough, independent review of the evidence, it has determined that the Moderna vaccine meets the Department’s stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements,” reads Health Canada’s statement on it.

“Today’s authorization is a critical step in ensuring additional COVID-19 vaccines are available to all Canadians in all parts of the country. The different storage and handling requirements of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine mean that it can be distributed to isolated and remote communities, including the territories.”

The next step will see the delivery of the vaccine to Yukon and other locations around the country. Silver said Whitehorse was one of five jurisdictions across the country that went through a dry-run practice for vaccine delivery from Europe earlier in December. Other practice locations were in Yellowknife and Inuvik, Northwest Territories; High Level, Alta.; and Corner Brook, N.L.

“Each day we become more prepared for the arrival of vaccines in Yukon,” Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Yukon Dr. Brendan Hanley said, praising staff working to ensure the territory is ready for the arrival of the vaccine when it comes.

Hanley and Silver focused much of their update on reminding Yukoners of the importance of following the Safe 6 plus one heading into the holidays.

“We remain in the grip of this pandemic,” Silver said.

The update largely served as a reminder to Yukoners of the regulations in hosting gatherings and the options for hosting guests over the holidays.

Anyone coming into the territory is required to self-isolate for 14 days. That means Yukoners can self-isolate with their visitor during their stay or follow a strict set of guidelines if the visitor is the only one in the house self-isolating. Among those regulations is the requirement to stay two metres away from others in the household, use separate bathrooms if possible, not sharing items, not eating meals with other members of the household and more.

If a guest leaves before the two-week isolation period is up, everyone in the household is required to self-isolate for three days after the guest has left.

Silver explained the three-day period was developed based on data showing a person may be infected for up to three days before symptoms show up.

Along with emphasizing the Safe 6 plus one and rules for hosting visitors, Silver and Hanley thanked Yukoners for their efforts and the sacrifices many are making, recognizing this will be the first Christmas for many without their kids or parents together for the holidays.

It was also announced at the update that the COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre (CTAC) will close at 4 p.m. on December 24 and remain closed Dec. 25 and 26. The drive-thru testing centre will also be closed Dec. 25 and 28 as well as Jan. 1.

Those experiencing severe symptoms and requiring immediate assistance can go to the Whitehorse General Hospital Emergency Department, a community hospital or health centre, it was noted.

Silver and Hanley ended their update in the holiday spirit with Hanley gifting Silver an elf mask and the pair presenting a poem that was adapted for the Yukon from another poem that had adapted The Night Before Christmas to the reality of COVID-19 in 2020.

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