January 28, 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.
Few changes to the lockdown measures
Québec Premier François Legault stressed that the lockdown measures and the curfew that have been in place since January 9 will undergo very few changes as of February 8 due to the fact that hospitalizations are still too high, in addition to the need to catch up on surgeries, treatments and tests that have been postponed since the start of the pandemic.
Mr. Legault explained that even though the daily number of cases and hospitalizations have been decreasing since the curfew, Quebecers must understand that the health system is not able to catch up on the number of treatments that have been postponed.
He warned that there will be some easing of the measures, but that “most of them will remain in place.”
Protecting health staff and people over 65
Delays in the delivery of the vaccine also mean extending lockdown and curfew measures in order to protect people over 65 who are the most at risk in terms of COVID-19, as well as health staff who have reached the point of exhaustion.
Mr. Legault reiterated that 80% of hospitalizations and 95% of deaths involve people 65 and over.
Mr. Dubé stated that the drop in vaccinations means that people 65 and over will be vaccinated later than planned, “which compounds the reasons for maintaining the current lockdown and curfew measures.”
Strict quarantine for travellers returning from abroad
Premier Legault called on the federal government again to ban non-essential travel abroad or to impose closely supervised quarantine in hotels at the expense of travellers.
Mr. Legault noted that the COVID-19 variant from the United Kingdom, now present in at least 70 countries, including Canada, is much more contagious. Already, seven Quebecers have been infected with this new variant.
“In the United Kingdom, there are 37,000 hospitalizations due to COVID-19. If we apply the rule of three, we would have 4,600 hospitalizations instead of 1,264. This would be catastrophic for our hospitals,” said the premier.
The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, added that Québec is currently analyzing 5% of test results in order to identify new variants and this percentage will soon reach 10%. By comparison, he said, 1% of tests are being surveyed in the United States and 5 to 7% in the United Kingdom.
No fines for the homeless
Premier Legault announced that fines handed out to the homeless during the curfew will be cancelled and that they were not supposed to be issued in the first place. However, this does not apply to fines issued for other infractions.
Mr. Legault confirmed that the amendment to the ministerial order to exclude these individuals from the curfew respects the government’s intention since the beginning and the directive issued to police to avoid issuing fines.
March 11, a day of commemoration
Mr. Legault announced that March 11 will be a day to commemorate those who have died due to COVID-19.
“There will be a special ceremony in Québec City and in the regions. It will be an opportunity for the entire province to offer its condolences to all of the families and loved ones who have lost someone much too soon,” due to COVID-19, explained the premier.
Protective masks made in Québec
Reminding Quebecers that in spring 2020, Québec had to manage the urgent purchase of surgical and procedural masks, the premier explained that the government signed an agreement with the Québec firm Medicom to manufacture, here in Québec, 20 million N95 masks and 66 million surgical masks.
François Legault is very pleased about this agreement that fulfils two objectives: self-reliance in terms of medical equipment in addition to the guarantee of well-paid jobs.
Keeping promises despite the pandemic
Mr. Legault also announced that the government will be in a position, despite the pandemic, to respect all of its 2018 election promises, in terms of education, with access to kindergarten for 4 year-olds, the addition of tutoring services for children with difficulties, renovation and construction projects to create beautiful schools, job creation, access to high-speed Internet across Québec and improved mechanisms to protect identity and culture.