Yukon reports 6th case of COVID-19, and 'good news' of 3 recoveries

Yukon's chief medical officer said Wednesday there was "good news" in the latest COVID-19 numbers for the territory — three Yukoners who earlier tested positive are now considered "recovered" from the illness.

"They are symptom-free, and they have finished their self-isolation period[s]," said Dr. Brendan Hanley, at a news conference on Wednesday.

"Once a they have cleared their symptoms and finished their time of isolation, then they are no longer infectious."

Hanley also announced a new confirmed case, however — Yukon's sixth overall. He said the person returned from Europe within the last two weeks, and were already self-isolating when symptoms began to show.

Hanley said the person is currently doing well. He also confirmed that all of Yukon's cases so far have been in Whitehorse.

"We're in a good position, with no cases outside Whitehorse, and all cases doing well."

As of Wednesday, 722 Yukoners had been tested for COVID-19, and results were still pending on 26 of those.

On Wednesday afternoon, neighbouring N.W.T. confirmed its second case of COVID-19 in the community of Inuvik.

'We are not suspending mining,' says minister

Also on Wednesday, Yukon's economic development minister, Ranj Pillai, held a news conference, where he was asked about mining activity in the territory. Some Yukon First Nations want a halt on all mining operations during the pandemic, citing concerns about mine workers travelling into and out of the territory.

Pillai called it a "complex" issue because it's not just out-of-territory workers at Yukon's mines — he says many Yukoners work in the industry too.

Watch Wednesday's news conference here:

Pillai also said Yukon's two working mines — Minto and Eagle — have taken measures to control the risk of spreading coronavirus. Anybody coming into the territory, including miners and prospectors, is required to self-isolate for 14 days, he said.

"At this point, we are not suspending mining because I am following the direction of the chief medical officer," said Minister Ranj Pillai.

Pillai also suggested there were new measures coming "very soon" to address some of the concerns from First Nations communities about mining activity during the pandemic.

Fund for cancelled events

Pillai also announced a new government fund on Wednesday to help businesses and organizations pay the bills for large cancelled events, such as the Arctic Winter Games or the Yukon Native Hockey Tournament.

"While the loss of these large gatherings is disappointing to all Yukoners, the negative impact is especially heavy for businesses that invested in these preparations," said Pillai.

Wayne Vallevand/CBC
Wayne Vallevand/CBC

"The program will reduce some of their burden during a period that is already hurting Yukon's businesses."

Pillai said businesses and NGOs can apply for funding to cover any or all "irretrievable losses" associated with events cancelled between Mar. 7 and Jul.30.

He said the fund is only for events that were intended for more than 50 people. Businesses and organizations must first try to cancel contracts, return supplies and otherwise cut losses before applying for help.