By Gordon Lambie
Following the announcement last week that take-home Covid tests will be available starting Monday at the daycare centres across the province, the regional healthcare administration for the Eastern Townships, the CIUSSS de l’Estrie CHUS highlighted that additional options are now also available at elementary schools in the region, including rapid testing that can be carried out by school staff, spit tests and, in a small pilot project, take-home tests at certain schools.These new screening options are meant to help quickly identify children infected with COVID-19 and slow the spread of the virus in child care settings and schools.The CIUSSS announced increased access to ambulance services in the Coaticook, Granit, and des Sources territories in light of the fact that the local emergency services in these areas have been reduced in recent months.An update is expected Monday on how the province will be responding to the arrival of the Omicron variant and what Covid restrictions may be in place over the holiday period. On Friday Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) shared an update to the recommendations around COVID-19 booster shots, stating that adults 50 years of age or older; adults living in long-term care homes for seniors; adults in or from First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities; recipients of a viral vector vaccine series completed with only viral vector vaccines (such as the AstraZeneca vaccine); and adult frontline health care workers (having direct close physical contact with patients) should all be offered booster shots six months after their second dose. At this point in time the Quebec government is only offering boosters to those aged 70 and older, and those who received two doses of AstraZeneca. The province of Quebec reported 4,123 new cases over the weekend, bringing the total number of people infected since the start of the pandemics to 454,636.There were four new deaths recorded over that same period.The number of people in hospital due to the virus was 219 on Sunday with 59 in intensive care, representing a slight decrease in hospitalizations but an increase in the number of people in the ICU from where things stood last Thursday.As of Friday’s report from the Eastern Townships there were 1,330 active cases in the region, with 311 new cases having been reported over Wednesday and Thursday of last week. Those cases continued to be most concentrated in Sherbrooke, Des Sources, Memphremagog, and Granit, with the highest rates of transmission being in Des Sources, Granit, Coaticook, and Memphremagog.There were 16 hospitalizations in the region as of Friday’s update, six of which were in intensive care.As of Sunday124,602 young people aged 5 to 11 had received a first dose of the vaccine against COVID-19 and 136,856 were awaiting their appointment. Friday’s update from the Eastern Townships put local coverage for that age group at 16.6 per cent overall for a first dose.