Government of Yukon updates COVID-19 testing approach

Based on the recommendations of the acting Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Government of Yukon is adjusting its approach to testing for COVID-19 in response to the advent of the new Omicron variant of concern.

With widespread community transmission of Omicron throughout the territory and across Canada, there is no longer the capacity to use lab-based PCR tests for most people to confirm whether they have COVID-19.

The Government of Yukon is prioritizing PCR testing for those who are most at risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. This includes people who live in communities outside of Whitehorse, front line workers, people and staff in congregate living, people who are over 50, pregnant or have risk factors of severe disease, and people who are unvaccinated or partially unvaccinated.

These changes will protect the Yukon’s most vulnerable people by making sure that as cases surge the PCR testing is available where it is needed most to protect public health. This follows the lead of other jurisdictions that have made this shift in response to testing capacity overwhelm.

For the majority of people, the Omicron variant is causing mild symptoms that can be safely managed at home. People with COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, should isolate while they recover.

Only individuals who are eligible for PCR testing in Whitehorse should access drive-thru testing or book a test at the COVID-19 Testing and Assessment Centre in Whitehorse. People outside of Whitehorse who feel they need a test can contact the rural community health centre. This guidance may change as the situation evolves.

Many jurisdictions are making similar changes to prioritize PCR tests as testing clinics have become overwhelmed. This change will help make sure we have testing capacity for those who need it most. A test is not required to do the right thing and stay home and stay away from others when you are feeling sick.

Minister of Health and Social Services Tracy-Anne McPhee

Tests are most important for people who are at risk of severe disease or who work with vulnerable Yukoners. For most Yukoners, COVID-19 can be managed safely at home without testing.

acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Catherine Elliott

Quick facts 
  • The COVID-19 self-assessment tool and 811 is being updated to reflect this new direction.

  • Forging Ahead: The Yukon’s Continuing Response to COVID-19 provides the framework for how the territory will continue to manage the impacts of COVID-19.

  • The Government of Yukon has been using rapid molecular tests and rapid antigen tests in specific situations throughout the pandemic to support the overall public health response across the territory.

  • The Government of Yukon is actively working with the federal government to increase the rapid antigen test supply to best support the territory and we anticipate a shipment in the coming days. More information about the rapid antigen tests will be shared at this time.

Backgrounder 
The most commonly found COVID-19 symptoms include:
  • ​Fever
  • Chills
  • Cough (or acute exacerbation of a chronic cough)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle aches
Less common symptoms of COVID-19 infection may include:
  • ​Stuffy nose
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Discoloration of fingers or toes
Who can get lab-based PCR testing:

People who are symptomatic (as above) and who meet one of the following criteria remain eligible for lab-based PCR testing:

  • Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated people who are 12 years or older (have not received two doses of mRNA vaccine greater than two weeks prior to exposure)
  • Residents or staff of a congregate setting:
    • long-term care and residential care homes;
    • correction centres;
    • shelters and transition homes; and
    • mines.
  • Patients in acute care settings
  • Front line health care workers with direct patient care (for example; family physicians, nurses, dentists) and first responders
  • People who are 50 years and older
  • People living in communities outside of Whitehorse
  • People who are pregnant
  • People who have one or more risk factors for severe disease:
    • obesity (BMI >30 kg/m2);
    • type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus;
    • chronic respiratory disease;
    • chronic kidney disease;
    • cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease;
    • immunocompromised or receiving immunosuppressive therapy; and
    • intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Contact 

Renée Francoeur
Cabinet Communications
867-334-9194
renee.francoeur@yukon.ca

Carleen Kerr
Communications, Health and Social Services
867-667-3673
carleen.kerr@yukon.ca

News release #: 
22-002