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March 30, 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.

Additional supply of vaccines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada will receive 9.6 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in June, which is 5 million more than expected as the pace of the mass vaccination campaign accelerates.

Canada will receive its largest delivery of COVID-19 vaccines this week with the arrival of 3.2 million doses. This batch will include the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United States, where it has yet to be approved.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, confirmed that the restriction imposed yesterday on administering this particular vaccine to people 55 years of age and under is “a precautionary approach” due to the rare but dangerous risks of a possible link between the inoculation of the vaccine and the formation of blood clots (thrombosis).

The prime minister gave his assurance that the vaccine delivery pace of 44 million doses by the end of the summer means that all Canadians who want the full two-dose vaccine protection will get it, despite the new restrictions related to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Following the guidelines over the Easter holiday

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Québec Premier François Legault stressed the importance of following the health guidelines over the Easter holiday to avoid a sharp increase in the spread of the virus.

Mr. Legault said that the “next few days will be critical” in determining whether or not Quebecers are able to contain the third wave so that it is “less high and less long.” He reiterated the importance of complying with the health measures to guarantee success and, above all, not gathering in homes. “It’s still forbidden,” he said.

Heightened police presence over the weekend is expected, especially to ensure that the 9:30 p.m. curfew is respected.

Young adults at fault

Public Health experts have found that young adults are the ones who are gathering the most in homes, among friends, despite the ban.

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, pointed out that 60% of young people are not respecting the guidelines in orange zones. “The population’s compliance (with the guidelines) is what’s most important in preventing the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Arruda.

Premier Legault called on young people to show solidarity especially for those younger than them who go to school and whose academic success and mental health are being put at risk due to the restrictions on attending classes and socializing, which have been imposed on them over the last year.

Vaccine blitz in Québec

 To meet the goal of vaccinating all Quebecers by the National Holiday on June 24th, the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, called on people who want to become vaccinators to register on the online Jecontribue platform.

The government is in the process of completing the network of 20 to 50 companies that will be added to the mass vaccination centres as well as the 1,500 pharmacies that will contribute to the vaccination blitz in April, May and June.

“The new vaccinators will be trained in April,” said Mr. Dubé.

Five regions at a higher risk

Premier François Legault said that five regions are under high surveillance due to the sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases, that is, the Outaouais and particularly the city of Gatineau, the National Capital, Beauce, Lac-Saint-Jean, particularly Roberval, as well as the Lower St. Lawrence, particularly Rivière-du-Loup and Kamouraska.

To stop this upward trend, as was the case in Montréal a few weeks ago, the government will supply more vaccine doses to these five regions, instead of on a per capita basis, in order to protect more people.

The premier also announced that health restrictions could be tightened due to the upsurge in cases in recent days.

Hospital capacity maintained

 Premier Legault and Minister Dubé hope that if Quebecers follow the health guidelines, hospital capacity within the health network can be maintained during the third wave, which is currently the case.

Mr. Legault said that while other countries, states and provinces are reliving a major health crisis during the third wave, the situation is not the same in Québec right now thanks to its tighter health restrictions.