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October 8, 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.

Stay home this weekend

Premier François Legault called on Quebecers to stay home as much as possible and, in particular, during the long weekend starting tomorrow, to stay home with people living at the same address, and no one else.

As the daily number of new cases of people infected with COVID-19 continues to top 1,000, and hospitalizations are on the rise, Mr. Legault took pains to reiterate that “the situation remains critical.”

“We must make sacrifices in order to save our health network. If we want to be able to return to caring for everyone who is sick in Québec, we must reduce the number of hospitalizations, which means we must reduce our social contacts,” he said.

 Difficult, but simple, choices

 Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé stated that the choices that need to be made are difficult, but simple, when it comes to countering the second wave: social contacts must be limited.

 The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, explained that the average statistics over the last few days are pointing to a levelling off in the growth of the contagion. This would correspond to the sacrifices the population has made over the last few days to limit their social contacts.

For the minister, these are clear indicators and the request that people make sacrifices by staying home or limiting their social contacts this long weekend could reverse the spread of the virus. “We’ll see the benefits in the next seven to 10 days,” he said.

 Five new red zones

 Minister Christian Dubé placed five more regions in Québec in the red zone, which now corresponds to almost the entire St. Lawrence Valley, from Montréal to Québec City.

 The regional county municipalities (RCM) of Bécancour, Nicolet-Yamaska, Drummond, Portneuf and the City of Trois-Rivières must now apply the restrictions specific to red zones, such as closing bars and restaurants, as of Saturday night, while schools must implement additional health measures as of Wednesday evening.

 Road checks

 Five police road checkpoints will be in place as of tomorrow afternoon in certain more remote regions, such as Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, in order to raise awareness among drivers that travel in these regions should be “essential.”

 Minister Dubé reassured the population that this policing will not be coercive, but rather designed to remind people of the public health measures in place.

 For the minister of Health and Social Services, it is important that anyone living in a red zone who travels to an orange or yellow zone must respect the rules applicable to red zones, such as not eating in a restaurant in an orange or yellow zone.

 “Don’t do at others what you can’t do at home.”

 Increasing tracing

 In order to limit the spread of the infection by people who are asymptomatic, Premier Legault talked about the importance of increasing tracing for those who have been in contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

 “This is a top priority,” said Mr. Legault, explaining that it is important to identify those who have been in contact so that “they can be taken out of circulation as fast as possible.”

 To achieve this, he reminded Quebecers of the importance of downloading COVID Alert, the free app for smart phones.

 Two report cards instead of three

 Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge announced that students will receive two report cards this year, instead of three, and that the final ministerial exam will count for 10% of their final grade, instead of 20%.

These measures have been taken to lighten the load of school staff in the context of the pandemic.

Free universal health services

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds it unacceptable that some people are turning to private clinics to get a screening test more quickly, stating that he plans to make sure that access is the same for everyone.