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September 29, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Risk of new restrictions

Québec Premier François Legault announced that the spread of the contagion during the second wave of the pandemic is of such concern that more restrictive measures may have to be added to the ones already put in place.

The premier explained that the “figures are worrisome and that the situation remains critical,” as Québec recorded for the first time an increase in hospitalizations (35) and deaths (7).

Mr. Legault stressed that the restrictions and the closures announced yesterday, as three of Québec’s regions moved into the maximum alert level (red), including the Montréal Metropolitan Community, were received by many “as a real blow” and caused “frustrations” among the population.

This reality is however the same around the world, where many countries are facing a second wave of the pandemic and must reinstitute social restrictions to save lives.

Call to youth

Mr. Legault sent an urgent appeal to people under the age of 30 who, in the context of this second wave, represent over half of the cases of people infected with COVID-19.

Although youth are at a lower risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19, they must however be aware of the impact of the second or even third transmission that they could cause among their parents or their grandparents who could develop serious or even fatal complications.

Hospitals are experiencing difficulties and are very fragile

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, explained that the situation in hospitals is very precarious due to staff shortages. He added that, in some hospitals, beds are now being closed because nurses must go to screening clinics. Some 2,000 beds have been freed up for the second wave in hospitals across Québec.

Wearing masks in schools

Québec’s national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, explained why the wearing of masks in schools at all times is still out of the question, by pointing out that the classroom is not where the highest risk of transmission exists, but rather at lunchtime or when going in and out of classes, when young people can mingle freely amongst themselves.

He explained that if young people come into close contact at lunchtime or at the parc after school, wearing masks in the classroom is pointless.

Stopping prolonged contact

To explain why a person can play hockey in the evening with their friends at the arena, while another person cannot go to the theatre, Premier François Legault explained that the closure of bars, restaurants, performance halls and meeting rooms is intended to stop prolonged contact.

He added that prolonged contact among people, for more than 10 minutes, creates situations in which the risk of contagion increases. This is the case in theatres as well as in bars, restaurants and cinemas, but to a lesser extent in businesses.

Police intervention

Mr. Legault announced that tomorrow he will unveil the new guidelines for law enforcement as well as the new provisions that will be made available to them so that they can enforce public health rules.

Canadian tracing app

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, confirmed that Québec will adopt the federal government’s contact tracing app, COVID Alert, to facilitate screening investigations of people infected and the people they have been in contact with.

An announcement will be made soon, despite the fact that the majority of Quebecers have stated their opposition to the use of this type of application out of fear of data sharing and geolocation.