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January 21, 2021 – 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.

Moving in the right direction, but …

Québec Premier François Legault reassured the population that the spread of the virus continues to trend downward since the curfew was imposed on January 9, but that prudence is still in order because COVID-19 hospitalizations are still too high.

The premier set out three objectives that must be attained to relax the health measures, namely, a reduction in the number of hospitalizations, an end to offloading in hospitals, and shorter waiting lists for surgeries, examinations and medical treatments.

Vaccinations completed in CHSLDs

Mr. Legault also announced that all residents of residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) have been vaccinated.

“This is good news, but we still have a long road ahead of us,” he said.

Maintaining health measures

Mr. Legault insisted that despite the decrease in the number of cases, which would indicate a drop in hospitalizations in the near future, “we can’t reopen everything in the next few weeks,” he said.

“Health workers are worn out. They’ve been on the front for 11 months,” stated Mr. Legault. Moreover, once the current intense period has passed, his government would like to focus on catching up on postponed medical interventions.

Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé said that only about 50% of regular medical interventions are currently being performed, thanks in particular to agreements with 22 private clinics.

“I’d like to see that go up to 85% as soon as possible, but the premier has asked me to aim for 115% in order to catch up more quickly,” said Mr. Dubé.

Ban on non-essential travel or quarantine in a hotel

Premier Legault reiterated his request that the federal government ban non-essential travel abroad in order to avoid introducing to Canada the new variants of the coronavirus active in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil.

If this ban is not brought in, Mr. Legault is proposing a plan B to the federal government, namely, that people entering the country do their quarantine in a hotel room or an establishment supervised by authorities.

This quarantine period will be at the expense of the traveler, said Mr. Legault, as is the case for travelers entering New Zealand and Australia. The premiers are slated to discuss this issue at their next weekly teleconference.

Mr. Legault stated that he does not have to explain to anyone why he does not want a repeat of the contagion that occurred after the school break last year, which was linked to the rapid spread of COVID-19.

Blood donations

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, called on Quebecers to continue to give blood to Héma-Québec even if supplies are “very good” right now.

“I’d like to thank all those who are donating blood,” said Mr. Dubé.