COVID-19 exposure warning in Yukon led to delays in testing

·2 min read

Yukon health officials say they want to ensure COVID-19 testing can be done efficiently in the territory, after a public health warning last week prompted a temporary backlog.

"It led to some delays in getting testing, for some of those people," said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley at a media briefing on Wednesday.

"We're looking at ways to make sure the [Respiratory Assessment Centre], or the testing site in Whitehorse, still has the capacity if this level of testing demand remains."

On Friday, health officials said some Yukoners may have been exposed to COVID-19 after two people tested positive for the disease shortly after returning home from a trip to the Yukon. Territorial officials were notified by officials from another jurisdiction.

Dawson City residents, and people who visited the community between July 20 and 22, were asked to monitor themselves for symptoms. In Whitehorse, people who visited Integra Tire on the morning of July 20 or Walmart the morning of July 23 were also advised of possible exposure.

Hanley said the advisory led to a flurry of testing over the weekend and early this week. All tests associated with the possible exposure have come back negative, he said on Wednesday.

He also reiterated that the risk to Yukoners is believed to be low.

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Hanley said officials could have been more clear about when people should get tested. He said people who may have been in the places named on Friday were advised only to monitor themselves for symptoms, and to get assessed if they experience symptoms.

He also explained why two specific businesses were named in Whitehorse as possible points of exposure, while no other specific places were named in Whitehorse, Dawson or elsewhere. He said Yukon officials were reliant on information from another jurisdiction, and so did not have all the details.

He also said that those details wouldn't necessarily be shared, and that businesses and locations are named only when there's a chance of wider public exposure to the virus, and officials can't track everybody who may have been there.

"We're very careful about naming particular businesses," Hanley said.

"Posting a notification is not a reflection on the business at all … it is just that there was some potential for public contact at each of those locations."