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February 23, 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.

Vaccination campaign begins next week

Québec Premier François Legault announced the “big news” that the vaccination campaign for people over the age of 85 will begin next week in Québec, at a rate of 100,000 people a week.

Starting Thursday, people 85 years of age or older, that is, anyone born in 1936 or before, can make an appointment by email or by phone. The easiest way is via the Internet, by visiting Quebec.ca/vaccinCOVID. Appointments can also be made by phone at 1-877-644-4545.

Since the vaccine must be administered in two doses, the appointment for the second inoculation will be made at the time of the first vaccination, and will be scheduled within 90 days.

Every week, we will indicate the next rounds of vaccination and the age groups that will be invited to make an appointment,” said the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé.

According to Mr. Legault, the general public will then be vaccinated quite quickly.

Caution is still in order

While general vaccination means “gaining ground against the pandemic,” Mr. Legault said he is still very worried about the next few weeks, especially with the week of spring break and the new COVID-19 variants that are more easily transmitted.

The premier reiterated that the vaccine takes three weeks to become effective.

“In Québec, like almost everywhere in the world, the number of new variants is rising. And they’re more contagious. It’s easier than before to contract the virus. If we don’t watch out in the next few weeks, the number of cases could explode,” warned Mr. Legault.

In this respect, the week of spring break will be a big test for Québec. “We can’t have a recurrence of what happened during the Holidays […] This is not the time for private gatherings in homes, chalets or big hotel rooms. We must respect our family bubbles. We cannot afford to go through an explosion of the contagion,” said the premier.

The spectre of a third wave, more contagious than the first two, is very real. “If people get together like they did during the Holidays, this is what we are going to face,” he said.

Minister Dubé added that already 486 probable cases of the new variants are suspected, which is 66 more than yesterday.

Quebecers must stick to health guidelines

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, stressed that the start of the vaccination campaign is not the time to slack off and that Quebecers must continue to respect the health guidelines.

Discipline is crucial in stopping the spread of the virus, especially in the face of new variants.

Virtual summit between Prime Minister Trudeau and U.S. President Biden

During their first virtual bilateral meeting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden discussed the importance of maintaining efforts to end the pandemic.