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November 10, 2020 – 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.

Resurgence of the pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is concerned about the resurgence of the pandemic as the number of people infected with COVID-19 is reaching daily record highs.

Mr. Trudeau called on the premiers and mayors to “do more” to ensure that the contagion is contained and to not relax the protective measures in place.

The prime minister stated that the federal government is assuming its role by providing the necessary financial assistance to citizens as well as to businesses in order to protect the Canadian economy and jobs.

“The best way to protect our economic well-being for the years to come is to control the spread of COVID-19 now.” said Mr. Trudeau.

Another two weeks at least…

Québec Premier François Legault announced that the restrictive measures in place in the alert zones will be maintained in Québec until November 23, because even though Québec has managed to maintain a stable number of cases over the last few weeks, there has been an increase in the number of people infected with COVID-19 over the last few days.

Mr. Legault drew a portrait of the regions to show that while nine regions, including Montréal and Québec City, are doing relatively well, five others are recording a significant increase in cases, namely, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Lanaudière, Mauricie, Centre-du-Québec and Gaspésie.

In this context, the health measures, in particular the closing of restaurants, gyms, bars and performance halls, as well as the ban on contact sports, will be maintained for at least two weeks.

“Unfortunately, the indicators are showing that we have to be even more prudent. There’s been no decrease, and even an increase in cases,” said Mr. Legault.

He hopes that by pursuing these efforts, it will be possible to relax the rules for the Christmas holidays, but “it’s still too soon.”

Worse to come?

Comparing the statistics per million inhabitants, Premier Legault showed that Québec is doing better right now that the United States and most countries in Europe.”

He explained that since September 1, Québec has recorded 76 deaths per million inhabitants, while this number is two or three times higher elsewhere in the world.

The premier reiterated that if someone is infected, has symptoms or has been in contact with someone who is infected, self-isolation is the least they can do. “I’m hearing stories, and it’s very serious. This is a life or death situation for some people,” he said.

A vaccine in a few months

Both the prime minister and the Québec premier stated that an effective vaccine finally seems to be within reach and we might be able to contemplate the possibility of an end to the pandemic, however challenges around production, storage, transportation and administering it to people who are infected means that the vaccine will not be available for another few months for the general population.

The Québec minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, added that the complex logistics around receiving, distributing and administering the vaccination have already been worked out, as has the purchase of huge freezers to store the first vaccine identified, as it must be stored at a temperature of below -65 degree Celsius.

More rapid detection tests

Health Canada has approved a new rapid detection test, the BD Veritor, which will produce results in 15 minutes on a portable device. Some 7.6 million of these tests will be distributed across the country over the next few weeks, adding to the 3.3 million rapid detection tests that have already been distributed in Canada.

Air ventilation and purification

Like this summer when the government had to rapidly install air conditioning systems in health facilities due to the personal protective measures that made conditions difficult for healthcare workers, the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, stated that a plan is being developed to guarantee better air ventilation and purification in schools as well as all government facilities.

Mr. Dubé said that the government has already embarked on a needs assessment based on the opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the risk of contracting COVID-19 through aerosol transmission. “If we need to take action, we’ll do so quickly […] even if these measures are costly,” said Minister Dubé.