October 7, 2020 – 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.
Québec Premier François Legault called on Quebecers to “stay home” in an effort to break the second wave of contagion of the pandemic and to protect the healthcare network.
Mr. Legault explained that the situation is critical and that COVID-19 is causing an exponential rise in cases. He stressed that over the last two weeks, the number of hospitalizations has doubled, from 168 to 469 cases related to COVID-19.
“At this rate, in two weeks from now, we’ll be at 800 cases and in one month, 1,600 cases. Our health network is already fragile,” he said.
While the situation is critical, it is not too late to turn back the tide, said Québec’s national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacia Arruda.
In step with the rest of the world
Mr. Legault explained that the situation in Québec is no different from elsewhere around the world where governments are being forced to implement measures to stop the pandemic from spreading.
The leader of the Québec government stressed that these choices must be made: “We’re not happy about closing restaurants, bars, sports activities and theatres, especially since so many people have been making great efforts to follow the guidelines. Exceptional situations call for exceptional measures,” said Mr. Legault.
Mr. Legault cited the example of large cities is the U.S. that are grappling with death rates similar to those in Montréal, such as Chicago and Detroit, or rates that are twice as high, like Boston and New York.
The government’s strategy is two-fold: to protect the healthcare system’s capacity while allowing schools to stay open and as many businesses as possible to maintain their operations.
Too much or too little?
With regard to the debate about forcing secondary 4 and 5 students to wear masks in the classroom, Premier Legault mentioned that the solutions are not unanimously accepted, as some argue that more restrictions should be imposed, and others say less restrictions are needed.
Mr. Legault stated that it is virtually impossible to please everyone, and that his objective is not “to be popular, but to save the healthcare system.”
At the peak of the first wave, some 12,000 people in the healthcare system were absent from work for health reasons. Currently, 6,000 people are absent.
School elections postponed
Premier Legault stated that the Direction de la Santé publique is recommending that the government postpone the elections in English schools that were scheduled for this fall.
“We are, of course, going to follow this recommendation,” he said.