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January 18, 2022 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

The following is an update on recent decisions and actions by the provincial government related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Use of PAXLOVIDTM in Québec

Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr. Luc Boileau, interim National Director of Public Health, and Dr. Lucie Opatrny, Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for university, medical, nursing and pharmaceutical affairs at the Ministère de la Santé, provided an update on the COVID-19 situation in Québec.

Dr. Opatrny confirmed that Québec will soon use Pfizer’s PAXLOVIDTM treatment. Quantities will be limited: the province will receive 6,300 treatments in January, 6,200 in February and 19,000 in March.

Distribution will be through certain pharmacies in Québec. Priority will be given to people who are at high risk of hospitalization and who are well known to the healthcare system through their access to clinicians. This includes people who are immunosuppressed, unvaccinated, elderly, and suffering from a chronic illness, as well as vulnerable populations.

Prioritization guide for short-term hospitalizations

The increase in hospitalizations is stabilizing every day, which means that a peak will soon be reached.

This said, the situation remains very critical in hospitals. A prioritization guide for short-term hospitalizations is being prepared to change the way care will be provided between now and reaching the plateau, if necessary.

“I want to make it clear: we are not reducing the level of care at this time; however, we are preparing to innovate and use the network differently, by focusing on home care or by reducing the average of some hospital stays. Hopefully, the plan will never have to be rolled out,” Dr. Opatrny said.

There is currently a shortage of 12,000 workers in the healthcare system, which is equivalent to the peak observed during the first wave.

Easing of health measures

For the moment, the Québec government is not considering easing health measures.

“To say today that we are going to remove measures when the network is overloaded would be irresponsible. We are at the end of our rope, the elastic is stretched to the limit. We have reached the point where we are trying to figure out how to treat patients differently, because the healthcare system is at its limits,” Mr. Dubé said.

All the government’s efforts are being put on the hospital network and vaccination. The Minister of Health hopes to be able to administer 125,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on a daily basis.