August 25, 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.
World’s best record
The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, announced that Québec is the place in the world where the pandemic has been best controlled over the last two weeks.
“This is the second week in a row that we have recorded less than 100 cases per day, with an average of 80 cases per day among a population of 8.5 million people. That’s a ratio of 10 cases per million inhabitants,” said the minister.
He thanked Quebecers for their efforts over the last few months, which have allowed Québec to attain this result.
However, the minister stated that the situation could quickly degenerate. South Korea, which has long been the best country in terms of managing the pandemic, has recently seen a resurgence in community contagion.
The goal, in order to maintain the flattening of the contagion curve, is not to exceed 20 cases per million inhabitants, that is, 160 people infected per day.
Not about mathematics, but about lives
While Minister Dubé is very pleased with this positive track record, he reiterated that COVID-19 is not about mathematics, but about lives.
Mr. Dubé also referred to people who survived their battle against COVID-19, but will continue to feel the effects of the virus for the rest of their lives with deficiencies and reduced capacities.
Five reasons for Quebecers to continue to protect themselves
Minister Christian Dubé enumerated five reasons why Quebecers must continue to respect the health guidelines in order to protect themselves from a new contagion of COVID-19.
The first reason is to protect the lives of seniors, who are most vulnerable to the pandemic.
The second reason is to avoid the overcrowding of our hospitals in order to continue to be able to provide surgeries and medical treatments.
The actions of Quebecers are also important in terms of protecting the lives of healthcare workers, since many have been sick or have died due to COVID-19.
With the return to school, Quebecers must also think about their children. They must give everyone an equal opportunity for education. “It’s important for their wellbeing and to allow them to socialize and to learn,” he said.
The fifth reason is to restart the economy, for the wellbeing of all of society.
Minister Christian Dubé made an analogy between the current pandemic in Québec and a bushfire.
“Every day, Public Health teams respond to 4, 5, 6 or 7 outbreaks. Each time, they trace everyone who may have been infected. What we are doing now is preventing outbreaks, which I compare to a preventing a bushfire from becoming a forest fire,” he said.
No mobile notification app
The minister for Government Digital Transformation, Éric Caire, announced that the government will not deploy a mobile notification app for COVID-19, but is preparing for it in the event of a second wave of the pandemic.
Minister Caire pointed out that a public consultation attended by over 16,000 people demonstrated a willingness to employ a notification app.
Information documents for parents
The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, explained that parents will have access to information online to address all of their concerns in the event of COVID-19 infection in schools.
Christian Dubé pointed out that there will be, first and foremost, a reminder to be posted at home so that parents know how to respond within the first 24 hours if a child presents symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. There will then be a questionnaire to be completed online—or with the help of liaison agents on the general phone line (1-877-644-4545). There will also be a “health corridor” to ensure that children are quickly tested, either in mobile clinics or in health institutions.
Mr. Dubé assured Quebecers that all helpful information will be deployed and made available.
Financial assistance for cities
Québec’s premier, François Legault announced that the government will offer assistance to compensate all of Québec’s municipalities for the additional expenses and lost revenue caused by the pandemic.
“These sums will be added to the $400 million already announced to support public transit corporations,” said Mr. Legault.
No wearing of masks in the classroom
Premier François Legault and the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, reassured Quebecers that the mandatory wearing of masks in the classroom is not necessary based on the advice of experts and experiences around the world.
“Our plan is to ensure the safety of children and teachers,” said Mr. Legault.
Dr. Arruda added that the solutions applied will ensure a healthier balance for the development of children.
Minister Dubé stated that the screening capacity has now attained 19,000 people per day, but, in his opinion, this is still not enough in response to the growing needs in the context of the return to school.
He also said that currently the average time for sample collection, analysis and the communication of results is between 24 and 48 hours, which is not satisfactory.