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February 5, 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.

Six million doses as planned

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave reassurances that the agreements signed with the pharmaceutical companies that produce COVID-19 vaccines guarantee the delivery of 6 million doses by March 31.

Mr. Trudeau stated that he understands the impatience and frustration caused by the delay in the delivery of the vaccine. “We’d like everyone to be vaccinated in the next week or two. But unfortunately, global production cannot keep up,” he said.

“We’re maintaining our goal of 6 million doses before the end of March and 20 million doses in the spring. Canadians who want the vaccine will have it by September.”

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé lamented the federal government’s slow delivery of the vaccine.

“We’re barely administering the vaccine, even though we’re ready to vaccinate a lot of people.

[…] It’s a little like having a new high-performance car, but no gas to get it on the road,” he said.

At the same time, during his live press briefing, Mr. Dubé learned that Québec had just received 38,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine, in addition to over 16,500 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

On the look-out for new variants

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, and the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, expressed their deep concern about the new variants that are more contagious and more dangerous, and could cause even more deaths.

Eight people infected in Québec in the last weeks were infected with the new variant from the United Kingdom, but so far no cases of the variants from South Africa and Brazil have been reported.

“This is a concern. We must be very vigilant,” said Mr. Dubé.

To prevent outbreaks and rampant contagion due to these new variants that are more virulent than the original COVID-19 strain, the government has developed a three-step strategy: testing and tracing, sequencing and screening of the viruses detected, and close supervision of people in quarantine.

The importance of rapid testing

Minister Dubé explained that one out of four people tested waited instead of being tested as soon as the first symptoms appeared. He encouraged Quebecers to go for testing at the first sign of symptoms to avoid causing an outbreak. He also encouraged the population to answer questions honestly and gave reassurances that there are no consequences for telling the truth, except for helping to prevent the spread of the virus.

Mr. Dubé made the same plea to parents, especially for children attending daycares and schools.

“The faster we test our positive cases, the easier it will be to trace them. This is how we’re going to beat the virus,” he said.