Premier Sandy Silver and Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott spoke about the latest COVID-19 situation this morning.
Almost one year to the day since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in the Yukon, this morning Premier Sandy Silver and Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott held the their first COVID update of the new year.
“You may be done with the pandemic but certainly the pandemic is not finished with us yet,” said Silver.
Dr. Elliott shined some light onto the current situation.
She said that we are in a new phase of the pandemic with cases of Omicron on the rise across the country and the Yukon is seeing “unprecedented” numbers.
Over the past seven days, the Yukon is averaging 58 new infections a day. The average over the past three days is 63.
At this morning’s briefing Dr. Elliott said there were 302 active cases in the territory, that is up from yesterday when the active infection count was sitting at 269. A case update released this afternoon said infections have risen to 325.
With community transmission and exposure possible in a lot of places, according to Dr. Elliott you can safely assume you have COVID-19 if you are experiencing symptoms and most people wont need a test. She said the majority of people who get sick with the Omicron variant will have mild illness and should stay home and take care of themselves for seven days. She said an online tool is coming to help people determine if they have COVID which will free up the territory’s testing system for those who are at risk of severe disease or those who are vulnerable. Dr. Elliott also said that the Yukon has about 5,000 rapid antigen test kits from the federal government and they are working on getting more.
Dr. Elliot said that vaccines are not as effective at preventing illness from Omicron compared to other variants, but shots still reduce your likelihood of getting sick and are essential to make sure the Yukon’s health system - which has a total of four ICU beds - is not overwhelmed.
“When you are fully vaccinated, you are less likely to become infected. When you are fully vaccinated you are less likely to infect your contacts. When you are fully vaccinated you are less likely to be hospitalized, to need oxygen or breathing support or even to die. This why vaccine is so important now,” said Dr. Elliott.
This Friday, new public safety measures will be enforced under the Civil Emergencies Measures Act, including limits on gathering sizes and capacity caps on bars and restaurants.