Legault calls for ban on non-essential travel

By Gordon Lambie
Legault calls for ban on non-essential travel

Speaking to media on Tuesday afternoon, Quebec Premier François Legault said that he has asked the Federal Government to ban all non-essential international flights in order to prevent the spread of a growing number of COVID-19 variants. Legault called the trend of people making international trips during a pandemic “increasingly worrying” and said that he wants to avoid seeing a repeat of the circumstances last spring where international travelers brought the virus home with them from abroad.
“It is time to act,” the premier said, arguing that if the federal government could close the borders in the spring, they can do it again now. He specified that he could see there being room for an exception in the case of travelling to see dying family members or resolve immigration issues, but made several references to “all-inclusives in Punta Cana” as unnecessary and reckless in the present context.
“Do we really need to have these trips right now? I don’t think so,” he said.
Lacking an all-out ban, Legault said that he would like to see better follow-up regarding quarantine of those returning from abroad, with spot-checks to ensure that people are following the required measures. While recognizing travel as being under Federal jurisdiction, he also said that he has asked Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault to look into what kinds of control measures the province is able to put in place on its own.
Despite the concern over travelers, Legault’s tone on Tuesday was mainly one of cautious optimism, pointing out that the number of overall active cases in the province has decreased from 24,000 to 19,000 over the past week.
“This is only one week, but it looks as if the measures are starting to pay off,” he said, encouraging the population to remain vigilant in light of the fact that the trend remains stable with regard to hospitalizations, meaning that the health network remains under great pressure. “We need to focus all of our efforts on reducing our contacts,” he continued.
Quebec showed 1,386 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 245,734, of which 217,575 have now recovered. The data also showed 55 new deaths, for a total of 9,142. The number of hospitalizations increased by 9 compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 1,500. Among these, the number of people in intensive care decreased by 5, for a total of 212.
In the Estrie Region only 41 new cases were reported in Tuesday’s numbers, but there were five new deaths; one each at the Granby and Fleurimont Hospitals and three in the community across the Haute-Yamaska, la Pommeraie and du Granit local health networks.
A total of 94 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the region on Tuesday, 12 of whom were in intensive care.
According to Health Minister Christian Dubé more than 80 per cent of CHSLD residents and employees across the province have already received a vaccination dose, with the rest on track to do so by the end of the week. While the pacing of vaccination is likely to slow down in the coming weeks due to a reduction in supply from Pfizer, Dubé said that the province is still confident it can reach 225,000 doses administered by Feb. 8, a target that has been revised from the original 250,000.

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