Modified –The number of COVID-19 cases in Yukon communities for this week has been released – and shows potentially shocking numbers for residents of Whitehorse.
Late this morning, public health officials reported 329 active cases, including 41 new ones.
This brought the number of Yukon residents who had the virus to 2,125.
Authorities reported 74 new cases on Thursday. That brought the official number of cases to 328, up three from Wednesday.
The increases follow a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday where Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr Catherine Elliott announced reduced self-isolation orders in a bid to prevent the territory testing regime is overloaded.
People vaccinated with two or three doses should now self-isolate for seven days if they show symptoms without requiring a positive test. This represents 80%. 100 of the population of the Yukon.
Symptoms include a sore throat, sniffling or runny nose, and fever.
If you have such symptoms, Elliott said, you are presumed to have COVID-19.
Partially vaccinated (one dose) or unvaccinated people should make the same assumption and self-isolate for 10 days.
This is a departure from the usual 14 days of isolation that Yukoners are used to.
Unvaccinated people now represent 10% of the population, according to government figures.
No number of cases in the community were included in the last report, as this breakdown only occurs on Wednesdays.
There have been 325 active cases in the territory, the Yukon government website reported on Wednesday.
Whitehorse had 263 of these cases. Both were record numbers.
Dawson City has been officially listed as having 20 cases, although Mayor Bill Kendrick has said many residents believe the actual number is significantly higher.
Tagish had six, Carcross had five, with fewer in rural communities.
Pelly Crossing had three, Watson Lake had two, with one case each in Haines Junction, Old Crow and Teslin.
According to Elliott, however, no one should read these numbers too much.
In Wednesday’s briefing, she said she hoped Yukoners understood the numbers only paint a rough picture of what’s going on in the land.
“This is not an exact count,” she admitted.
That was his explanation for a continuing gap in cases between what government sources are recording and what local officials like Kendrick are saying.
Elliott said she wanted people to understand the government numbers were from tests that were done and then logged into the official database.
Although she said this is a quick process, there may be a lag between these tests and their official release.
At best, the government figures represent a snapshot of the real situation.
She also mentioned that the test positivity rate is currently 32%, indicating that there is a high number of cases in the Yukon that go unregistered.
She couldn’t extrapolate, however roughly, how many cases there might be.
Elliott also did not break down the number of Omicron variant cases in the Yukon, despite a pre-Christmas promise to do so.
She only said there was widespread community spread of the variant, and it remains to be seen if it would level off quickly, as it appears to be elsewhere.
âNow is the time to prevent this,â Elliott said. âIt’s like a blizzard has hit. It’s a challenge. “
The key tool to reduce the spread during this outbreak is isolation, Elliott said.
This is why it imposes an initial seven-day isolation for fully vaccinated people who are symptomatic without any testing required.
If you have symptoms such as a sore throat, sniffling, cough, or fever and you don’t have any chronic health problems, simply stay home for a week until you are finished. ‘have more symptoms, she advised.
âI’m asking a lot of people right now,â Elliott said. âYou should stay home (if you have these symptoms). “
Territorial public health officials are still considering whether to use rapid tests on a larger scale.
While the federal government has announced that it will provide hundreds of thousands more such tests to provinces and territories, the Yukon expects to receive 100,000 test kits, according to Premier Sandy Silver, who has noted that Omicron is spreading “like wildfire” across the territory.
The Centennial Motors car wash COVID test site off the Alaska Highway in Hillcrest has been very busy in recent days, with some people queuing for several hours.