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December 14, 2021 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the provincial government regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free rapid tests in pharmacies

Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, Horacio Arruda, National Director of Public Health in Québec, and Daniel Paré, Director of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Québec, announced that starting December 20, free rapid tests will gradually be distributed to the entire population at 1,900 pharmacies across Québec.

“With the arrival of the Omicron variant and the current increase in cases, we must take all possible measures to avoid outbreaks during the Holiday season,” Mr. Dubé said, adding: “Among these measures, the distribution of rapid tests is an excellent means of control and will give every citizen some autonomy in managing the virus.”

Distribution will depend on federal government deliveries and will take place over the next few weeks.

Every individual will be able to obtain five free rapid tests per 30-day period. The test should be done only when there are symptoms. If the test is positive, the person must go quickly for a test at a screening centre.

Until March 31, 2022, tests will also be distributed free of charge to symptomatic residents in private centres for seniors, known as intermediate and family-type resources (IR-FTRs), and in long-term-care centres (CHSLDs).

The Québec government has already distributed six million of these tests in primary schools and daycares, and hopes to receive 10 million from the federal government this month.

Two new health measures

Public health authorities are recommending:

  • Teleworking effective immediately and until further notice;
  • Mandatory masking in common areas of all seniors’ residences.

Call for applications for vaccinators

Mr. Paré issued a call for applications to hire 500 vaccinators via the Je Contribue website.

This would speed up the administration of the third dose of the vaccine, especially for people aged 60 and over.

The current vaccination capacity is 300,000 doses per week and the government plans to increase this to more than 600,000 doses weekly by January.

The COVID-19 situation in Québec

More than 30,000 people have contracted COVID-19 in the last 28 days. Of these, 550 have been hospitalized, 150 of them in intensive care.

Those not fully vaccinated account for more than 50% of the cases and two-thirds of these end up in intensive care.

Vaccination for children aged 5 to 11

At least 50% of children aged 5 to 11 have already received a dose of COVID-19 vaccine or are awaiting their appointment.