The Yukon may have led Canada’s vaccination rates earlier this year, but the rapid return of COVID-19 to the territory was inevitable and has prompted a return to tighter restrictions, says Prime Minister Sandy Silver.
Whitehorse is experiencing widespread and untraceable COVID-19 cases, Silver said Wednesday.
It forced the territory to declare a state of emergency on Monday with measures to reduce transmission that include wearing masks indoors and limits on meetings from November 13 to December 3.
“Being able to predict when it will happen is not something any jurisdiction can do, but being prepared for the inevitable is something we spend a lot of time and energy on,” Silver said.
Daily COVID-19 cases in Whitehorse have risen from 10 to 30 over the past week, he said at a news conference.
“We have also learned that COVID-19 is not done with us, even if we have had enough,” Silver said. “By taking these steps now, we hope we can stop the rapid transmission that we are currently seeing in the territory.”
The territory reopened a COVID-19 testing facility in Whitehorse, which will operate seven days a week, including Remembrance Day, and no appointment is required, it said.
“Please, I beg of you to get vaccinated,” Silver said. “These vaccines are safe and they save lives.”
The territory has also accelerated implementation of vaccine testing requirements to access designated facilities and services for residents 12 and older, Silver said.
Starting Saturday, Yukon residents must show a paper or digital copy of the vaccine proof and a government-issued photo ID to access services and facilities, Silver said.
# COVID19 cases increase in #Yukon, double vaccination cases increase, says health official.
There are currently 156 active cases of COVID-19 in the territory, with eight people in the hospital, said Dr. Catherine Elliott, Yukon’s interim medical director of health.
Of the 156 cases, 108 are in Whitehorse, he said.
As of Friday, 89 percent of Yukon residents age 12 and older had received their first dose of vaccine and 85 percent of residents were fully vaccinated.
Elliott said the increase in cases can be attributed to the actions of the highly contagious Delta variant, increases in indoor activity as winter approaches, and transmission between unvaccinated people.
But COVID-19 cases among people who have received two doses of the vaccine are also increasing, with a 50 percent increase since June, he said.
Elliott attributed the rise in infections among those who received two injections to the large amount of COVID-19 circulating in the Yukon and the time since people received their second dose of vaccine.
He noted that it’s normal for immunity to vaccines to wane over time, which is why the government now offers booster shots to people 50 and older.
Elliot urged people to get vaccinated, saying it reduces the chance of becoming infected with COVID-19 and reduces the risk of serious illness or death.
“This is the drug that teaches our immune system to react quickly and effectively if we get infected,” Elliott said.
He said the territory is also closely monitoring other jurisdictions in Canada to determine when is the right time to offer a more widespread booster vaccination program.
– By Dirk Meissner in Victoria
This Canadian Press report was first published on November 10, 2021.