Yukon premier says more people need to get vaccinated as restrictions set to be eased

WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier is encouraging more people to get immunized before some restrictions are lifted next week and says COVID-19 infections are occurring among clusters of unvaccinated residents in some communities.

Sandy Silver says measures such as no longer requiring masks in indoor public places are justified as of Aug. 4 because 80 per cent of adults in the territory are fully vaccinated and 60 per cent of youth between the ages of 12 and 17 have received both doses.

However, he says some restrictions on social and organized gatherings will remain because those settings pose the highest risk of infection for those who are not immunized.

Silver says rapid response testing teams have recently been deployed to communities such as Watson Lake and they have succeeded in containing further spread of the virus among households.

He says vulnerable people who need to self-isolate are being supported with wellness checks and those at risk of withdrawal have access to nicotine, cannabis and alcohol in consultation with medical experts.

Silver says the easing of restrictions is causing excitement, concern and confusion, but residents should respect the wishes of community organizations and businesses that will still require people to wear masks.

"It's very important for us to adjust to this new paradigm, to take the steps necessary to ensure that we all feel safe and that we all feel healthy and protected as we live our lives," he says.

Six people have died of COVID-19 in the territory, four of them last month since the start of a fourth wave of the virus.

Silver says 14 infected people have been transferred to hospitals outside the territory, and 11 of them were not vaccinated.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press