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September 22, 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.

The pandemic is spreading

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, announced that two more regions, namely, Laval and the Outaouais, have moved to orange, or moderate alert, while the Centre-du-Québec has moved from green to yellow, or pre-alert mode.

He explained that before moving to the final alert stage, red, two new health safety guidelines will be added, depending on the cases on the ground, in the regions affected.

The decision was justified by “rapid changes” in contagion in the regions in question. “It’s not just the number of cases that justify changes in alert status, but also the number of outbreaks.”

Mr. Dubé stated that there were 75 new outbreaks, in only two days, across Québec.

Avoiding gatherings and limiting them to 6 people

Minister Dubé, along with the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, explained that in an effort to “be accommodating,” the rules for private gatherings vary, but to simplify things, there is a limit of six people per private gathering.

“The objective is six,” stated Dr. Arruda.

The minister added that the government would like people to limit their socializing in order to counter the spread of COVID-19. Failing that, he would like private gatherings to be limited to six people instead of 10.

As for gatherings for celebrations and religious events, they are now limited to 25 people instead of 50 in orange zones, such as Montréal.

Tracing app

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, announced that the government is seeking parliamentary consensus before implementing a tracing app for cell phones.

The government would prefer that a Québec app be used, if it can be operational in short order.

5,000 people missing from the health network

Minister Dubé explained that the second wave of the pandemic “is stressing our health system” because health care workers are already being severely tested and there are still 5,000 nurses absent from the network.

This condition is keeping the health network in a fragile state in the event of a significant increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, because workers in the network are tired. “We must protect them,” said Mr. Dubé.

“Each time we have to reassign a nurse to go do screening or tracing, there’s someone who suffers,” said the minister, because these health care workers are being taken away from their regular duties in the health network.

Mr. Dubé was nevertheless reassuring: “We’re not in a dangerous situation, but a very fragile one.”

New call on Quebecers

In this context, the minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, called on all those who can lend a helping hand for screening and for tracing people who may have been infected.

Since tracing COVID-19 cases is critical to limiting its spread, the minister called on various professionals and technicians in the health field, such as audiologists, dentists, dieticians, dental hygienists, physiotherapists, midwives and others, to offer their services in the various screening clinics.

For contact tracing, the minister called on people who, in particular, have experience in surveys and polls to offer a helping hand. If necessary, training will be offered.

Any involvement at this level will be remunerated.

Unacceptable conduct in restaurants

Minister Dubé was “truly angered” by the poor conduct of certain individuals partying in restaurants, in defiance of health safety guidelines.

In one case on the weekend, dozens of clients resumed partying after the police left. “This is unacceptable conduct by citizens,” said the minister. This particular case is under investigation.

Retired teachers called in as reinforcements

The minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, called on retired teachers to lend a helping hand in schools, without any financial penalty, in order to alleviate staff shortages.

Retired teachers will receive the same wages they were earning at the time of their retirement.

This labour shortage is less significant than last year, with a shortage of full-time 117 teachers on Monday compared with 135 in 2019.