30 Yukoners now dead from COVID-19; health officials dial back case reporting

·2 min read
The Whitehorse General Hospital. Yukon has now seen 30 people die with COVID-19.  (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)
The Whitehorse General Hospital. Yukon has now seen 30 people die with COVID-19. (Paul Tukker/CBC - image credit)

The Yukon hit a grim milestone this month, with health officials logging the territory's 30th death associated with COVID-19.

The numbers also show there's been a recent spike in fatalities — with Yukon's cumulative death toll increasing by four people over less than two weeks.

Health officials, though, are not saying much about the recently deceased.

The health department did not make anybody available for an interview this week.

In an emailed statement on Wednesday, Health department spokesperson Samantha Henney said the recent deaths involved people older than 50 and the "majority" were not up to date with their vaccinations.

"In addition, other risk factors or co-morbidities were present," the statement reads.

Henney would not say whether the most recent deaths suggest more people are becoming infected, or that there are more cases of serious illness.

Henney said Yukon's COVID-19 online dashboard is updated daily, with case numbers, fatalities and test positivity rates. But Yukon's top doctor has also cautioned that those numbers have become less meaningful as a way for Yukoners to understand and manage their risk of infection.

Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada

"What we're trying to do is move to a more routine frequency of reporting. And one that's perhaps less sort of, you know, frenetic and reactive — one that's more sort of scheduled and planned," Dr. Sudit Ranade, Yukon's chief medical officer, told CBC News last week.

"The ongoing, you know, review of these numbers to help you determine what your personal risk is or what you should do is less reliable."

Ranade said COVID-19 is "not going to go away," so there will be always be some level of risk of exposure when socializing.

"What we're going to try to do is move to a place where people, you know, don't make false presumptions about what the numbers are telling them and what that means they should do."

Officials are still urging people to get vaccinated and ensure they're up-to-date with their boosters, saying it's the best protection against infection and serious illness.