Yukon reports 1st COVID-19-related death, in Watson Lake

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Yukon reports 1st COVID-19-related death, in Watson Lake
Yukon reports 1st COVID-19-related death, in Watson Lake

Yukon is reporting its first COVID-19-related death.

A person from Watson Lake died on Thursday, said Yukon's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley at a news conference on Friday.

Hanley said the individual was "older" and had "significant underlying medical conditions."

He said the person died at home, "unexpectedly but peacefully."

The territory has seen a recent cluster of five cases in the rural community of Watson Lake, with an unknown source of infection.

"This is a very sad day for Yukon, one that I had hoped we would not see," said Hanley.

"We are just as susceptible here to COVID as we are anywhere else."

Watch Friday's news conference here:

Hanley would not release details about the deceased person, saying confidentiality is important given Yukon's small population.

This is the first reported death related to COVID-19 in the North.

"Today I mourn with Watson Lake and with all of you," said Hanley.

He said a COVID-19 patient's status can change quickly, often in the second week of the illness.

Hanley said people need to "redouble our efforts to protect our elders and more vulnerable citizens."

Hanley said the territory seems like it's been successful in containing the Watson Lake outbreak. He said that 53 people have been tested in the town so far.

The risk of COVID-19 has not changed in Watson Lake or elsewhere in Yukon, said a government statement.

Hanley asked people to respect mask policies in local establishments, and wear a mask "if in doubt."

Philippe Morin/CBC
Philippe Morin/CBC

Yukon has reported a total of 23 cases since the pandemic began, with 17 people considered recovered.

Yukon reported its most recent case in Whitehorse on Thursday, which was not linked to the Watson Lake cases. The new case is linked to two travel-related cases previously reported in Whitehorse, according to a government statement. Health officials say the person was already self-isolating and there is no risk to the public.

At his news conference Friday, Hanley said Yukoners can still go out and trick-or-treat this weekend with precautions, but he urged people to gather only with their social bubble.