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September 4, 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.

Calling for discipline over the long weekend

Québec Premier François Legault called for solidarity and respect over the Labour Day Weekend, given the steady rise of the COVID-19 curve over the last several days.

With the continued increase in the number of cases, Mr. Legault called on Quebecers to take collective action. “We have to wear masks, keep our distances and wash our hands to reduce the spread as much as possible,” he said.

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, stated that the increase in numbers is a “major warning.”

Mr. Dubé cited the example of a meeting among friends in Laval where 14 out of 17 people were infected. The minister stressed that these were friends, not people who did not know each other, in an effort to help Quebecers understand the risk of contagion.

List of schools affected

Minister Dubé confirmed that the government will release a first list of schools where cases of infection have been confirmed.

This list will then be updated daily. Mr. Dubé wants to make sure that all the information released is confirmed before guaranteeing not only the transparency of communications, but also the reliability of confirmed cases.

Student initiation rituals cancelled

While school activities are resuming everywhere, Minister Dubé asked everyone who has organized student initiation rituals to cancel them.

“I repeat, these rituals must not be held. They are very dangerous,” he said.

The minister pointed out that in the United States, when the resurgence of COVID-19 occurred, primarily affecting youth, the consequences led to a rise in hospitalizations and deaths.

“This is what we want to avoid,” said Mr. Dubé.

Saliva screening tests

Public Health’s special advisor, Dr. Richard Massé, confirmed that Public Health laboratories are in the process of completing protocols for the use of new saliva screening tests that are faster and less invasive.

These new tests will be integrated “soon,” said Mr. Massé, while pointing out that they will be used as a complement to the current tests, which are more complicated to administer. The type of test will be chosen according to the particular circumstances of each case.

He stressed that the saliva tests will be easier to use, especially in schools, among children.

Four levels of alert

Minister Christian Dubé confirmed that the government is operating according to four levels of alert to manage contagion zones in the event of a dreaded second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Québec will be divided into regions and sub-regions and, based on the cases reported, colour codes will indicate the risk level and the rules to be followed by the populations affected.

 Rules for punishing offenders

While the rules for easing isolation rules have resulted in businesspeople being targeted by fines for non-adherence to health regulations, such as wearing a mask, physical distancing and handwashing, the current rules are being revised so that police officers can issue fines to offenders.

Minister Dubé explained that the current provisions make it difficult for police officers to issue fines.

Drop in unemployment

Premier François Legault is very pleased that the unemployment figures released to the public continue to show that Québec’s economic restart has been swifter compared to other provinces and its neighbour to the South.

“If we want to see the relaunching of the economy and the government re-establishing public finances, people have to be able to keep working. We have to relaunch the economy without relaunching the pandemic.”