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November 3, 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.

Three-layer non-medical masks

The chief public health officer of Canada, Dr. Theresa Tam, is recommending that Canadians wear three-layer masks, with the third layer made of a filter-type fabric.

The specialist specified that there were no studies in the past on non-medical masks and that the COVID-19 pandemic has improved knowledge about them.

A mask should have three layers, two made of tightly woven fabric, such as cotton or linen, and the third of a filter-type fabric, such as polypropylene.

The World Health Organization has been recommending a three-layer mask since June.

Growing contagion in Canada

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is concerned about the growth of the second wave of the pandemic in Canada, with cases increasing every day, particularly in the Prairies.

Mr. Trudeau noted that the curve of the second wave is more pronounced in most countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world, including the United Kingdom, France and Belgium. In the latter two countries, “the sharp increase in hospitalizations” is compromising health systems.

“This is a reality that cannot be ignored. The numbers are showing that to fight the second wave, we must reverse current trends,” he said, calling on Canadians to reduce non-essential social contacts, wear masks, maintain two-meters’ physical distancing and wash hands regularly.

Cases stable in Québec

Québec Premier François Legault is extremely happy, in the current context, that the number of cases has stabilized around 1,000 per day for the last five weeks and that cases have fallen in the two major cities, Montréal and Québec City.

However, Mr. Legault condemned the fact that in two regions, Lanaudière and Lac-Saint-Jean, there has been a significant increase in cases. He called on citizens to make an extra effort to counter the spread of COVID-19.

Risk of a tsunami…

Premier Legault warned the population that they need to keep following the health guidelines because “a surge in cases is still possible and we could be facing a tsunami of hospitalizations,” based on what is occurring elsewhere in the world.

Mr. Legault was proud to announce that since September 1, Québec has been able to report one of the lowest death rates per million inhabitants, that is, 61, while the United Kingdom has had 77 deaths, France 98, the United States 145, Spain 153, and Belgium 165.

The arrival of cold temperatures, which will push people indoors, increases the risk of contagion, he said.

Flu vaccination

The prime minister of Canada called on the population to get the flu vaccination this fall in order to reduce the chances of contracting the flu and putting pressure on hospitals.

Mr. Trudeau said that the government was able to order a higher number of doses of flu vaccine despite the growth in demand internationally.

$7.5 million for Québec farmers

The Canadian and Québec ministers of Agriculture, Marie-Claude Bibeau and André Lamontagne, respectively, announced $7.5 million to purchase protective equipment and to adapt housing for foreign workers in the context of the pandemic.

Some 1,000 Québec farmers should benefit from this assistance to cover expenses around securing work places and housing, adding health measures and purchasing personal protective equipment for farms.

In general, half of expenses incurred from March 15, 2020 to February 26, 2021, will be reimbursed.

Mental health: from 2 to 15% of the population affected in Québec

Premier Legault stressed the importance of the additional $100 million invested in mental health because 15% of Quebecers are now dealing with mental health problems, up from 2% prior to the pandemic.

New realities in our lives

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Theresa Tam and Québec Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé called on everyone to recognize that the new normal in our lives is living with the health challenges of the current pandemic for the foreseeable future.

“We must learn to live with COVID-19. This is the new normal. We need to think about wearing a mask, washing our hands and keeping our distance. This will bring rewards, as we saw on Halloween. We must learn to do things differently in this new reality,” said Minister Dubé.