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April 14, 2020 – Government updates on the COVID-19 pandemic

In the exceptional circumstances of the current health state of emergency, here is an update on recent decisions and actions by federal and provincial governments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, emphasized that the potential threat of COVID-19 had been under discussion since January with the intelligence alliance Five Eyes (Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, the United States and Canada), and that since then the situation has been taken in hand.

When questioned about relaunching the economy, Mr. Trudeau stated, “That will not happen for a few weeks,” and pointed out that it is important that the return to normal life be “gradual and that we be vigilant until a vaccine is available.”

Calling on everyone

The premier of Québec, François Legault, called on anyone who is qualified to help staff residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs). He asked some 2,000 teachers in medical training and nursing as well as those who have retired from the health sector to lend a helping hand.

“We need you in the CHSLDs,” Mr. Legault said.

In response to a question about the fact that dental hygienists and dentists have offered their help in vain, the minister of Health and Social Services, Danielle McCann said, “We’re open to every professional order that can help.”

Mr. Trudeau announced new guidelines for CHSLDs and seniors’ residences to restrict visits, increase control measures for staff, and introduce new procedures.

The premier of Québec added that 95% of establishments have a person in charge of communicating with families.

Caregivers now permitted

Starting Thursday, Premier Legault will be permitting caregivers who are already known in the CHSLDs to return and help out. Management in each establishment will identify these individuals, and procedures and precautions will be put in place regarding their presence and interventions.

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, reiterated that visits by family and loved ones to seniors living in residences and CHSLDs are still prohibited.

“I’m pleading with you to respect this measure,” he said.

“With what we’ve learned since the beginning of this crisis, we now know that people who are asymptomatic can infect others,” said Mr. Arruda.

 Protective equipment

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that 1.1 million N95 masks will be shipped to the provinces and territories in the next few days, along with thousands of gloves. As of Monday, orders for Canadian-made gowns will be ready.

Support for northern communities

Prime Minister Trudeau announced $130 million in support for northern communities to fight COVID-19, including $72.6 million for health care in the Yukon, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.

The Quarantine Act

Prime Minister Trudeau announced that as of midnight tonight, border agents will require travellers from abroad to present a credible quarantine plan, otherwise they will be placed in quarantine for 14 days in specially designated hotels.

This additional measure is to prevent people from isolating with others, particularly with the elderly, and is for people who do not have a place to stay because they have been away from Canada for a long time.

 Today’s acknowledgements

In today’s acknowledgements, the premier highlighted the exceptional act of compassion by Dr. Nadine Larente, who was the first to be dispatched by the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île de Montréal to the Herron CHSLD, in Dorval, to determine the gravity of the situation. When she arrived, there were only two patient attendants and one nurse for 130 residents. Dr. Larente immediately called her husband and their teenage children to come distribute meals and help the seniors in the residence, given the lack of personnel and the COVID-19 crisis.

“This sense of humanity is so admirable. On behalf of all Quebecers, thank you.”