[COVID-19] Public Health stays the course, despite “pandemic growth”

Quebec Public Health has no intention of tightening sanitary measures or revising its calendar for the end of the use of a mask, despite the “growth of the pandemic” that should not stop for about two weeks.

“It’s certainly not encouraging, because we are still on the upswing, currently, of the pandemic,” acting national director of public health Luc Boileau said Wednesday.

Especially since a wave of influenza adds to the 40,000 to 60,000 new daily cases of COVID-19, he added. “Let’s say we would have done without it, but we’ll live with it,” the expert said of this bout of flu.

As the long Easter weekend approaches, he once again called on Quebecers to “adapt” their behavior to the current pandemic situation.

As of Wednesday, 2,060 people were hospitalized with the virus, including 83 in intensive care. “Overall, the situation remains worrying,” agreed D.r Boileau. However, he said he did notice “some encouraging signs,” particularly in eastern Quebec.

In Bas-Saint-Laurent, the CISSS spokesman, Gilles Turmel, said on Wednesday that he observed “a sharp increase” in hospitalizations. “We were maintaining an average of between 30 and 40 cases [hospitalisés en plus par jour] Since a few days. But since the weekend, hospitalizations have risen to 65 today. We were at 63 on Monday and Tuesday,” she wrote to the To have to.

It remains that the Dr Boileau said he has long-term “some hope” about the situation in eastern Quebec.

“Will this hope return to the Greater Quebec and Greater Montreal regions? It is likely,” added the expert. He then clarified that “it is more in 8 to 10 or 12 days that we will be able to see if there is a real inflection that is happening for all of Quebec.”

The projections published this Wednesday by the National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) foresee that hospitalizations related to COVID-19 will continue to increase during the next two weeks.

The INESS foresees a “relative stability” in the occupation of intensive care beds. In its report, the institute indicates that 53% of the hospitalization cases registered from April 2 to 8 are patients “with COVID”, that is, hospitalized “for reasons other than COVID, then declared positive upon admission or during the stay. ”.

Status quo on the mask and Paxlovid

For now, the d.r Boileau remains the course in its recommendation on the mandatory use of the mask, which it intends to maintain until 1Ahem may. “If we have to review this, we will do it soon to notify the government,” he assured.

Public Health also does not intend to expand access to Paxlovid, an oral treatment for COVID-19.

“The network is [sous] pressure at the moment, but we believe that the tools that are out there will allow us to keep the system going. We are not going to be able to turn our heads saying: we give Paxlovid to everyone to prevent there from being an overload of the network”, said the D.r Boileau. “Paxlovid is a [traitement] complex, there are side effects, you have to be serious about it. […] We keep the lid on it. »

Currently, access to Paxlovid is limited to adults “with moderate to severe immunosuppression” regardless of their vaccination status, people 60 years of age or older who have received fewer than two doses of the vaccine and have not contracted COVID-19 in recent months, as well as some unvaccinated adults who have specific health conditions, such as chronic respiratory diseases.

In a press conference, Mr.r Boileau reiterated the importance of vaccination, noting in particular that “it would be a slaughter” at this time if Quebecers were not as immunized as they are.

At his side, the director of the vaccination campaign against COVID-19, Daniel Paré, announced that the new Novavax vaccine -which uses protein-based technology- is now available for people over 18 years of age. A total of 220,000 doses of this vaccine are expected in Quebec “in the coming weeks.”

Among Quebecers age 5 and older, only 53% have received a third dose of the vaccine so far. On Tuesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) stepped up its position on this booster dose and now strongly recommends that adults ages 18 to 49 receive it. Canada’s Director of Public Health, Dr.D Theresa Tam explained that a booster dose increases the effectiveness of the vaccine against the serious consequences of the disease to more than 90%.

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Before the press conference Dr Boileau, the opposition parties in the National Assembly have invited the Legault government to become more involved in the fight against the pandemic.

Québec Solidaire’s MNA, Vincent Marissal, stressed that all elected officials had a responsibility to encourage the population to get vaccinated and remain vigilant in the face of the increased risk of COVID-19 infection. “I have seen, like everyone else, that the government has gone very quickly from pandemic mode to electoral mode. It will not make the virus go away,” he told a news conference.

PQ parliamentary leader Joël Arseneau said the government should support public health awareness messages more clearly. “The message from the government, in fact, is as if the pandemic is behind us,” he said. And obviously, it is not. »

Liberal leader Dominique Anglade recalled that Prime Minister François Legault was accused last week of having trivialized the effects of COVID-19 symptoms. “We had an omnipresent government on the issue of the pandemic with Public Health, he said. So today, we are witnessing just the opposite. I think there is a happy middle ground. Playing it safe would be the right thing to do. »

François Legault has denied having disassociated himself from the management of the pandemic. “For now, Public Health […] it does not intend to add measures,” he stressed.

With Alexandre Robillard and The Canadian Press

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