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December 3, 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.

No gatherings at Christmas

Québec Premier François Legault has cancelled the two gatherings during the Holidays in red zones that were part of his moral contract with Quebecers, given that the spread of COVID-19 is ongoing and that the next few months run the risk of being the worst since the onset of the pandemic in March.

“If we look at the situation, we have to face the facts: it’s not realistic to think that we’ll manage to reduce the spread of the virus in a satisfactory way by Christmas,” he said.

Mr. Legault cited the following statistics to demonstrate the risk of the health network ‘s inability to care for the sick, if the virus continues to spread: “On October 1, there were 285 hospitalizations and nine  said Mr. Legault.

Moreover, some 6,600 healthcare workers are absent due to illness or for prevention. The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, added that 80 new COVID-19 cases are admitted to hospital each day.

“When making our decision about Christmas, we had to take into account healthcare workers, who are already tired, our parents and our grandparents. I’m sure that no one in Québec wants to regret for their rest of their life that they infected their mother or grandfather, with all of the possible consequences that come with that,” said Mr. Legault.

The final stretch in a marathon

Using the analogy of a marathon, in which the final stretch is the most difficult, Mr. Legault pointed out that the United States announced that the next three to four months of the pandemic will be the hardest and that “we’re coming very close to what’s going on there.”

“For nine months now, we’ve been making efforts, but the next three to four months will be the most difficult. Please be prudent and take care of each other,” said Mr. Legault.

He is confident that the “vast majority of people will follow the health guidelines. Quebecers have a lot of common sense. They don’t want to put their loved ones at risk,” said Mr. Legault. He cited a survey that shows that even if it were permitted to gather with family members during Christmas according to the moral contract Mr. Legault put forth, most people would have refrained from doing so in order to protect their loved ones from COVID-19.

Visiting someone who lives alone

As the premier said, “It’s going to be a quiet Christmas this year,” but he nevertheless encouraged people to support loved ones who live alone.

“The pandemic is hard. And even harder during the Holidays for people who live alone. I’m asking you to go on your own to visit someone who lives alone,” said Mr. Legault, while reiterating the importance of respecting the health guidelines, even more so in this context.

He also reminded Quebecers that there are all kinds of ways of staying in contact with others, by electronic platform, videoconference or phone.

Maintaining additional restrictions

While the two gatherings of 10 people have been cancelled during the Holidays, the government is nevertheless maintaining its request that businesses and schools limit personal contact as much as possible and favour telework, one week before and one week after Christmas, in an effort to counter community spread.

The best Christmas present we can give each other, said the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, and the director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, is to reduce the spread as much as possible between now and January.

“The situation right now is very serious and the numbers are alarming,” said Dr. Arruda. He stated that he is worried about hospitals’ ability to cope in January if the current rate of contagion continues to grow.

A less serious situation here, despite everything

While the situation is difficult, Premier Legault did note that, compared with what is going on around the world, per capita, the situation is two times less serious here.

In residential and long-term care centres and seniors’ homes, there are 80% fewer cases than there were in the spring.