April 20, 2021- Federal and provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian and Québec governments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Travel measures extended until May 21

Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated that the third wave is hitting hard and that the situation is “very difficult.”

“We’re going to extend the strengthened measures for another month, until May 21,” he said during a press conference, one day after the federal budget was tabled.

“Our strict measures […] are extremely important, which is why we are maintaining them,” he said, while taking the time to thank Air Canada and WestJet “for their decision to extend their voluntary suspension of flights to sunny destinations until the end of May.”

Even though less than 2% of cases have been linked to travel, “this is not the time to be travelling,” and “all travellers entering the country by land or air will continue to be subjected to rigorous measures to ensure the safety of others,” said the prime minister.

Three regions still
under close watch in Québec

Today, Québec reported 1,136 new cases and 17 deaths while 694 people with COVID-19 remain in hospital.

The Québec City region is still being closely monitored. The situation has stabilized in terms of the number of cases, but hospitalizations and deaths are still increasing.

In Chaudière-Appalaches, the number of hospitalizations also continues to rise, and the situation is particularly critical in the Beauce region. As hospitals near their maximum capacity, some patients will have to be transferred to Lévis.

In Outaouais, the situation is stable, but the number of positive cases is still very high. Due to the limited capacity of hospitals in the region, some patients will have to be transferred to the Laurentians for treatment.

Emergency measures extended once again

In the three hardest-hit regions, that is, the Québec City area, Chaudière-Appalaches and Outaouais, emergency measures will be extended until Monday, May 3. Schools and non-essential businesses will remain closed for at least another week. The premier stated that he understands the situation parents are facing at the moment, and promised to reopen schools as soon as it is possible.

In Montréal and Laval, the number of cases and hospitalizations is very high, but remains stable. The current measures are working well at the moment, but an outbreak could still occur over the next few weeks, so caution continues to be crucial.  The situation is also stable in other regions across Québec.

AstraZeneca for people 45 and up starting Wednesday

Québec is not far behind Saskatchewan with the second highest number of people who have received their first vaccine dose in Canada. To maintain this momentum, Mr. Legault confirmed that starting tomorrow (April 21), the AstraZeneca vaccine will be offered to anyone 45 years of age and over.

The minister of Health, Christian Dubé, explained that people who are already 45 years of age will be eligible for vaccination, but not those who will be turning 45 later this year.

In addition, Mr. Dubé stressed that there are only 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the government’s warehouses for a total of 800,000 eligible adults in Québec, that is, 600,000 people in the two new age groups (45 to 50 and 50 to 55 years old) and the 200,000 people aged 55 and over who have not availed themselves of the vaccine.

According to Dr. Arruda, this vaccine is not dangerous for women despite several atypical cases of thrombosis in the world. However, the risk is greater for women who take birth control pills or who smoke.

Until the majority of Quebecers have been vaccinated, several difficult weeks still lie ahead. Once again, the premier reiterated the importance of getting tested with onset of any symptoms and not hesitating to get the vaccine as soon as possible.

“More people are being vaccinated here than in any other province, and vaccination continues to be our passport to freedom,” said Mr. Legault.