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September 15, 2020 – 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.

As the number of cases of people infected with COVID-19 continues to climb in Québec, Premier François Legault called on the solidarity of Quebecers of all ages and all regions. He asked that the guidelines respecting gatherings be respected, including in the home, in order to counter the current situation, which he described as critical and worrisome.

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, pointed out that Québec is experiencing community transmission, meaning that it is occurring among friends and family.

“There’s a real risk of a second wave, a wave that could be powerful enough to require us to return to a lockdown in Québec. We don’t want that,” said Mr. Legault. “Now’s the time to think of others.”

Eight regions in pre-alert status

Premier Legault announced that four new regions have moved from green to yellow, including Montréal, which brings the number to eight, representing three-quarters of the Québec population, or 6.3 million people.

Minister Christian Dubé stated that some of these regions are very, very close to moving to orange and, therefore, subject to more severe isolation measures.

At the yellow level, there are more police interventions, more investigations. At the orange level, several restrictions apply, said Mr. Dubé. The number of people authorized in public places is reduced, private gatherings are cut from 10 to 6 people, bars are closed and restaurants can only offer takeout.

New measures for seniors’ homes

In order to prevent the spread of the virus in seniors’ homes, where there has been greater contagion, anyone walking in the corridors of these residences, anywhere in Québec, must now wear a mask.

Mr. Dubé explained that while “it’s frustrating to have to announce these restrictions, if we want to maintain some level of normalcy, we must be responsible, because our health system is already fragile.”

Those in charge of running seniors’ homes must keep a registry that tracks the movement of anyone entering or leaving, in order to facilitate tracking, if necessary.

Second wave will be three times more serious

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, pleaded with Quebecers to cooperate in flattening the climbing curve. “This is a question of life and death, and of freedom,” he said, stressing the importance of following the guidelines of physical distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask.

While not claiming to have a crystal ball, Dr. Arruda pointed out that, in general, the second wave of a pandemic is three times more serious than the first.

Contagion among young adults

Minister Dubé stated that in half of cases, contagion is among adults between the ages of 20 and 49, demonstrating the degree to which this is a situation of community transmission, not the more narrow transmission experienced in the spring in residences and long-term care centres (CHSLDs).

The statistics show that, right now, 21% of cases are among adults between the ages of 20 and 29, and 29% of the cases are among adults between the ages of 30 and 49.

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, added that the risks of spread to the vulnerable population are increased because these people are in the active population, and sometimes are doubly employed (studying and working), and socially active.

A difficult message to get across

The premier admitted that the message is difficult to convey to the population after six months of fighting the pandemic, but that this is the reality in every country around the world.

François Legault reiterated that Quebecers were the best in following the isolation rules this spring of the 60 states and provinces in North America.

Minister Dubé added that Quebecers have demonstrated that they are capable of controlling the contagion curve.

Dr. Arruda said that since the beginning of the pandemic, “we’ve put a lot of time into convincing people, but we won’t hesitate to use constraint” if the spread of the virus continues to increase.

Test results by e-mail and text

The government is also moving toward a standard of sending results by e-mail or text to those who consent to this method of communication, in order to lighten the workload of nurses who are responsible for sending out results.

“Some nurses end up having to call three or four times before they can talk to the person they are trying to reach. This takes a lot of time,” said Mr. Dubé.