No COVID cases, but Yukon restrictions remain as variants, outbreaks surge elsewhere

·2 min read

WHITEHORSE — Premier Sandy Silver says almost one-quarter of Yukon's population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but it's still too early to consider lifting restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic.

Silver says nearly 10,000 residents have received their first shot of vaccine and all are guaranteed a second shot within weeks, but supply uncertainties have forced cancellation of a general immunization clinic in Whitehorse until further notice.

Speaking at the regular COVID-19 update in Whitehorse, Silver says there are no active cases of the virus in Yukon and, supply issues aside, the territory is on track to offer vaccine to every resident by the end of April.

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley says Yukon is nearing what he calls Phase 3 and a half of the four-phase COVID-19 response but he can't say with certainty when public health measures might lift.

He says a "significant portion" of Yukon residents must be vaccinated and conditions across Canada will also affect their decisions, especially with a growing number of COVID-19 cases in northern B.C.

Hanley says Yukon is "close to seeing efforts pay off," but cautions changes to public health measures may not immediately follow full immunization, as suggested when the territory's COVID response strategy was written last year.

"So, Yukon, even with an accelerated vaccine program, will only truly feel like it has returned to normal when there is a certain level of normality in the rest of the country as well," Hanley says.

"Given the risks in the rest of the country and the world, we clearly can't expect immediate or even short-term changes."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press