| News

August 31, 2020 – 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.

General slackening in respecting the rules deplored

Québec Premier François Legault deplored the fact that the public has generally slackened in respecting Public Health’s guidelines for fighting COVID-19 and he called on everyone to get back to taking them seriously.

While the premier was understanding that Quebecers are a little tired of the guidelines, he stressed that people must get back to respecting them, whether its physical distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands or not holding private or family gatherings of more than 10 people.

While it is youth who are increasingly contracting the virus, the contagion is also more spread out across Québec, and not simply concentrated in the Montréal area.

He noted that with the reopening of the schools, the gradual return of people to the workplace and fall temperatures, which mean people will be indoors more, the health rules must be followed.

“I don’t want to have to delay surgeries in hospitals, close businesses, deprive people of their livelihoods and, above all, close the schools,” said Mr. Legault.

Profile of the second wave

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, specified that Public Health experts are concerned about the rising numbers over the last two weeks and fear that this will lead to a “second wave of the pandemic.”

“Two weeks ago, Public Health experts had to manage three to four outbreaks a day. Today, it’s eight to 10 outbreaks a day. It’s like a second wave is starting,” said Mr. Dubé.

No specific activity

While the number of cases of contagion is greater than one hundred a day, Premier François Legault added that at this point it is impossible to attribute this to any one activity.

“We’re not able to put our finger on the type of activities, such as bars, sports or private gatherings,” said Mr. Legault.

This is what confirms that there is a general slackening in respecting the guidelines and that it is important to “get back to a degree of discipline if we want to avoid a return to isolation,” said Mr. Legault.

Protecting the return to the classroom

While Premier Legault said that he is very pleased to see the smiles on children’s faces with their return to school, he wants the population to understand that, for the wellbeing of these children, the guidelines must be followed because, above all, he does not want to be forced to close the schools again due to a resurgence in contagion.

Mr. Legault noted that it is normal to expect outbreaks of COVID-19 cases in the schools, but health authorities will be able to manage them, control them and limit them.

Public health special advisor Dr. Richard Massé specified that the increase in cases is tied more closely to people returning from vacation than to the return to school. “In half the cases, the infection is in the community,” he said.

Punishable cases

Minister Christian Dubé added that the government is also studying the possibility of imposing fines in “punishable cases,” referring  in particular to videos that are circulating showing people who were infected during a karaoke event among friends and at a wedding.

The case of the karaoke even is blatant, said Mr. Dubé. “People were passing the microphone around, between friends. This is unacceptable,” he said.

This event alone generated 10 or so infections. The minister stated that in addition, there is the risk that there will be a multiplying effect in the next few days. The government is assessing the possibility of imposing the fines stipulated for offenders.

Purchase of future vaccines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government has concluded new agreements with pharmaceutical companies to purchase 88 million doses of vaccine and options for tens of millions more.

While in Montréal, Mr. Trudeau confirmed that agreements have been reached with the American companies Novavax and Johnson & Johnson in anticipation that the research and the development of new vaccines will confirm their effectiveness.

Canada also has agreements with the pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna for the purchase of vaccine doses for which clinical trials have been underway since the end of July.

$126 M for the manufacture of vaccines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced a $126-million investment for the construction of a new biomanufacturing building at the Human Health Therapeutics facility in Montréal.

With this investment, the National Research Council of Canada plans to increase the manufacture of vaccines to two million doses a month by next year.