The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has “not been a severe illness for children,” according to Yukon officials who went on to say that COVID-19, in general, has been “mild” for that age bracket.
The comments were made during the March 2 COVID-19 update with Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Dr. Catherine Elliott, Yukon's acting chief medical officer of health.
During this update, the premier announced the removal of remaining COVID restrictions — mandatory masking and proof of vaccination — on March 18, but that businesses and individual establishments can still require masks and utilize vaccine passports.
“As we move forward with fewer public health measures, I encourage you to be wise in your choices. To make good choices, and accept the diversity and differences of other people's choices”, stated Dr. Elliott. “It's important to connect with friends and loved ones and do the things that help us stay healthy — enjoy the arts, enjoy the wilderness. But we need to do so wisely, in a way that won't put people at risk. So use your COVID sense.”
“The risk in children under five is an interesting question. I have children myself, I do have that parental, as well as professional, responsibility to protect children, and such an important part of our society and our future. COVID-19 in general has been a mild disease for children,” stated Dr. Elliott, who continued:
The omicron variant, thankfully, has not been a severe illness for children. It has, because of the number of have been infected, there have been more severe cases across Canada, and more children will have the rare long term effect of long COVID. These are important considerations... at this point, we are in a... stable case count and percent positivity that we can manage, if we stay here.
Vaccination will help children, especially those, of course, who keep their vaccinations up to date. And for those children who are under 5 and are not yet eligible for vaccination, all of us are watching to see [if] this vaccine comes soon. And you know, parents may want to take extra protections. Many preschoolers and young children have been infection in this wave, and we have not had a case of severe illness in the territory amongst children in this wave.
Silver, leader of the Yukon Liberals, also stated that “many” of the province's employees who have not attested to vaccination will be able to return to work on April 4.