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    Sandy Silver interview April 8, 2022 CHONfm

Two cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant confirmed in the Yukon

Omicron was first deemed a variant of concern by the World Health Organization on November 26.

This morning in a press conference, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott announced that there are two confirmed cases of the newly discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the territory.

Dr. Elliott says the two people infected do not have sever illness, are taking precautions to not spread the virus, and that their household contacts are isolating with them.

“The name of the game to protect ourselves from COVID is to keep out germs to ourselves. This is what these two individuals are doing and as community members, as neighbours, as friends, they have done the right thing to protect us and for that, I am very grateful,” said Dr. Elliott.

She said the territory is taking a “containment approach.”

Not much is known about Omicron at this point. Dr. Elliott said that it may be more transmissible than delta and could become the dominant form of COVID in Canada. The arrival of Omicron was anticipated, Dr. Elliot said Yukon Communicable Disease Control is handling it.

Dr. Elliott also says she is not sure about vaccine effectiveness against the new variant first reported in South Africa on November 24, but she expects it will fight the virus.

Booster shot eligibility expanded

Also at this morning’s press conference, Minister of Health and Social Services Tracey-Anne McPhee announced that Yukoners over 18 who have had six months pass since their second dose can now get their COVID-19 booster shot.

She said that everyone eligible for the booster should be able to get it by the end of January.

“Vaccination remains our best protection and I strongly urge all eligible Yukoners to get vaccinated and to get a booster shot,” said McPhee.

Booster shots were first offered to people 50 and over in the Yukon last month.

Vaccine clinics opened to Yukon youngsters age five to 11 two days ago. Next week the vaccine clinic in Whitehorse will shift to only administering shots to kids in an effort to get as many children as possible vaccinated by Christmas.

Cases stabilizing

Dr. Elliot said that over the past week, the territory has averaged eight new cases a day and that the current situation is manageable.

Infections have been on the decline since public safety measure were implemented and a state of emergency was declared last month in response to a surge in cases totaling 169. Some of those safety measures were eased over the weekend.

In select number of cases, proof of vaccination is no longer be required. If you are under 19, you don’t have to show your vaccine credential to play sports or participate in recreational activities. The shot policy is also no longer mandatory for faith-based gatherings and personal services like hair salons, though businesses and organizations can still enforce it if the chose to.

The weekend also brought changes for get together sizes. Indoor organized gatherings don’t have to be limited to 25 anymore but have to be 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity with mask use. Indoor personal gatherings don’t have to stick to two households anymore though Dr. Elliott still recommends the practice as a precaution. When it comes to outdoor gatherings, the 50-person limit doesn’t apply anymore.

There are currently 44 active cases in the Yukon, that is down from the 50 reported at the beginning of the week.

Written by: CHON

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