Estrie nearing capacity on short-term COVID beds

By Gordon Lambie
Estrie nearing capacity on short-term COVID beds

The first live update on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region since the start of the New Year did not bring good news. The Estrie Region recorded 146 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, alongside seven new deaths and the news that the number of local hospitalizations was four shy of its 74-bed capacity.
Nancy Desautels, Associate Director of Emergency Measures, Civil Security, and Organizational Challenges for the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS said that although the near-capacity numbers are significant, a plan is underway to increase that capacity to as much as 150 per cent, if needed, without severely impacting other health services.
“We are following the situation closely” she said.
Speaking to the situation more broadly, Regional Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier, said that the increase in hospitalizations and deaths in the region is very closely tied to ongoing outbreaks in seniors’ residences and long term care homes, where cases are more likely to become serious because of increased vulnerability. That in mind he underlined the importance of the ongoing vaccination campaign for people working with seniors directly and the significance of the new measures announced on Wednesday evening.
“There is no blanket solution,” Poirier said, when asked what benefit a curfew might have for a population that is already living within a controlled environment, pointing out that all measures are meant to work together to try to control community spread.
On the subject of whether there is any concern about an increase in cases with the reopening of elementary schools next Monday, the public health director said that to date schools have only accounted for eight per cent of outbreaks in the region. In addition he praised the work of teachers over the last year for their help in controlling what spread there has been within schools, saying that the response has been such that although no one can guarantee there will be no spread once schools reopen, he is confident what spread there is will be quickly brought under control.
The Province of Québec reported 2,519 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the total number of people infected since the start of the pandemic to 220,518, 186,996 of whom are now considered to have recovered. Thursday’s report also included 74 new deaths, for a total of 8,562. Among these 74 deaths, 16 had occurred in the previous 24 hours, 41 had occurred between December 31 and January 5, 15 occurred before December 31 and 2 occurred at an unknown date. Despite the situation in the townships, the number of hospitalizations decreased by 13 compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 1,380. The number of people in intensive care remained stable at 202. The province also reported administering 9,960 doses of vaccine as of Wednesday, for a total of 48,632 so far.

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