Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced Tuesday afternoon that the Granit region, which includes Lac-Mégantic and the surrounding area, will be under special emergency measures to help control the spread of COVID-19 as of midnight on Wednesday. The decision, which involves the closure of high schools and nonessential businesses and the implementation of an 8 p.m. curfew, was made in light of the fact that the sub-region now has the highest number of active cases per capita of any other in the province.
Although the region still has less than half the number of active cases as in the neighbouring Beauce-Sartigan, the difference in population between the two regional health networks and the rising numbers in Granit have been deemed cause for alarm.
According to Dr. Alain Poirier, the regional public health director for the Townships, the current plan is for the measures to be in place a total of 11 days, ending on Monday May 17 if there is significant improvement.
To underline the severity of the situation in the Granit region, Poirier pointed out that the area is currently responsible for about half of the cases in the Townships and 30 per cent of the hospitalizations, despite being home to only 22,000 of the larger region’s nearly 500,000 people. Asked about the cause for the explosion in the region, the public health director pointed out that there is no real border between Granit and Beauce-Sartigan and that, in many ways, the two areas could be considered overlapping communities. That being the case, he said, it was easy for the virus to be transmitted from one region to another as people moved about.
Elsewhere in the province Legault announced primarily good news, with restrictions being lightened in a number of the regions that were hardest hit over the month of April
“We are starting the month of May in a good position,” the Premier said, encouraging people to keep the positive trend going by signing up for vaccination appointments as they become available.
Speaking on the subject of vaccination, Health Minister Christian Dubé said that if Quebec is able to vaccinate two million people over the course of the next month, the timeline for second doses might be able to move up as a result.
The province of Quebec reported 797 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 353,475. With 333,624 of those people having recovered, the number of active cases in the province dropped below 9,000, to 8,892.
The province recorded 16 new deaths, but the total only increased by 15, to 10,959, due to the withdrawal of one death not attributable to COVID-19.
The number of hospitalizations increased by six to 594, and the number of people in intensive care increased by four, to 155.
In the Eastern Townships there were 48 new cases reported on Tuesday, 30 of which were from the Granit sub-region. The number of active cases in the region as a whole was 447, 172 of which were in the Granit. There were no new deaths in the region on Tuesday, and the number of people in intensive care remained unchanged at eight while the number of people in hospital for reasons linked to the virus decreased by one to 17.
With regard to the vaccination campaign, the total number of doses administered as of Tuesday morning was 3,308,542, with 122,024 of those being second doses. In the Eastern Townships 183,787 people have received a first dose, and 6,484 have received a second.
Vaccination appointments open across Quebec today, May 5, to all those 40-44 years of age.