February 25, 2021 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic
Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
700,000 vaccine doses in March
The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, confirmed that Québec will receive 700,000 vaccine doses over the next few weeks—400,000 from Pfizer and 300,000 from Moderna.
Mr. Dubé said this was good news as today saw the beginning of appointment taking for vaccinations for people 85 years of age and over. By noon, 70,000 people had already booked their appointment.
“This is a good test of our vaccination system. We’ll have to book 12 million appointments over the next few months,” said the minister.
There were a few hiccups with the telephone appointment system, but they were quickly ironed out over the course of the day. Minister Dubé was also pleasantly surprised to see that even though the appointments were for seniors, almost half of them were booked using the government’s digital platform.
Second dose and caregivers
Minister Dubé also confirmed that the vaccine supply is adequate to guarantee that the second dose, required to ensure effectiveness, will start as of March 15.
The government also plans to permit the vaccination of caregivers at the same time as the person they are accompanying, on condition that they have already booked an appointment to be vaccinated, even if it is for another date.
This modification will be made to avoid caregivers having to return to get vaccinated.
Masks in elementary schools
Elementary school students will have to wear a procedural mask at all times at school due to the new COVID-19 variants, which are much more contagious than the original strain.
The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, explained that this measure was not necessary before because transmission among young people was low, but that cases of infection of the new variants have been detected among secondary school students.
Same number of cases despite the variants
Minister Dubé noted that for a few days now the number of new COVID-19 cases has hovered around 800, while there has been an increase in the detection of new variants.
He said this is good news, given that the new variants are much more contagious than the original strain.
Easing of measures during spring break
While certain restrictions will be eased as of Friday, in particular, the reopening of movie theatres, arenas and pools, the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, and the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, stressed that it is important to follow the health rules.
“We’re easing restrictions, but as the premier has stressed, we cannot repeat what we went through during the Holidays,” said Mr. Dubé.
The minister and national director stated that under the circumstances, meetings and private gatherings outside of family bubbles are still prohibited and called on Quebecers to respect the health rules.
In this context, Premier François Legault will announce next Tuesday if new steps will be taken to ease restrictions after spring break.
Digital vaccination passport
The Québec government is currently developing a digital vaccination passport with a QR code that will permit people who have been vaccinated to access public spaces, which could help ease lockdown measures.
Minister Dubé stated that it is too early to reveal any details, but he would like this electronic passport to be available by summer.