On Friday the Quebec National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) and University of Laval released new data presented by research director Marc Brisson, showing scientific predictions for the possible outcomes of a second wave of COVID-19.
The research showed that, by the end of August, positive cases started to rise again in Quebec. By the first week of September, cases had surpassed the highest numbers in March. Also presented was data on the death toll, which has yet to reach similar numbers to March.
Brisson explained that the province is experiencing a spike in cases due to more social contact in all areas. In April, during the lockdown period, researchers observed that there were only three categories in which social contacts were being made; at home, work, and a non-descript ‘other’ category. Looking at September, when cases began to climb once again, home, work, school, public transportation, and leisure activities all became a factor due to loosened restrictions from public health.
Also observed was that, through the summer and into September, contacts with visitors in the home were significantly increased, likely due to summer activities.
According to the research, the number of hospitalizations and deaths has decreased as the virus has affected a smaller number of people aged 66-75 years and 75 years and up. In May, people aged 26-45 had the highest number of recorded cases while there were approximately 2,000 cases recorded in people over 75 years old. September showed similar numbers for people aged 26-45 but less than 1,000 cases in those over 75.
The predictions made were based on this previous data and also considered how public health restrictions can help limit the gravity of a second wave. Brisson presented three possible scenarios. The first outlined the effects of the pandemic if no additional measures were put in place. Without reducing the number of social contacts observed at the beginning of September and without adding any additional measures, researchers predict a spike in cases that significantly surpasses the numbers from March. In this scenario, cases, deaths, and hospitalizations would climb exponentially, likely in all regions of the province.
The second scenario described the predicted effects if the measures put in place at the beginning of October remained the only restrictions. With the closing of bars and restaurants, limits on visitors in the home, and a decrease in contacts in schools, there would be a significant flattening of the curve compared to the first scenario. There would likely be a climb in cases and hospitalizations, but nowhere near as many as the first scenario. This scenario also predicted less deaths than the first. Cases would also significantly surpass the numbers from March, and so would hospitalizations, but the number of deaths would likely be much closer to the numbers observed in March.
The last scenario presented described the predicted effects if the measures in place from the beginning of October are observed with a 25 per cent increase in the number of individuals adhering to social distancing measures. This is the best-case scenario, with a significant decrease in cases from the numbers observed through September and October thus far, and a flat curve. Hospitalizations, cases, and deaths are predicted to never reach the same high numbers as March in this scenario.
The research says that the second wave has begun with the quick spike in cases since mid-August. There have been higher numbers of cases observed in people less than 25 years old compared to the first wave, which has likely been the cause of less hospitalizations and deaths.
The research suggests that as a province, Quebec needs to become more diligent in following safety measures, not only to keep individuals safe, but in order to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Quebec reported 1,055 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, 1,279 on Saturday and 1,094 new cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of people infected in the province to 93,391. Six new deaths from recent weeks were added, bringing the total in Quebec to 6,038. The number of hospitalizations increased by 10 compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 527. Among those, 88 are in intensive care.
In the Estrie region, 25 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Friday, 60 on Saturday and 44 cases on Sunday, for a local total of 2,307.
According to public health, 78,559 people in the province are considered recovered from the virus.