Masks to stay until at least the end of April

By Gordon Lambie
Masks to stay until at least the end of April

Quebec’s Interim Public Health Director, Dr. Luc Boileau, says that the province’s mask mandate will remain in place at least until the end of the month in light of the current sixth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boileau made the announcement on Tuesday morning, repeating his frequent message that the mask remains an effective tool in limiting the spread of the virus when used in public spaces across the entire population. Given the recent rise in cases and hospitalizations across all regions of Quebec, he said prolonging the mandate is a careful response meant to help keep the situation under control.

Although Boileau’s phrasing did not eliminate the possibility that the mandate could be extended further, he told media gathered for Tuesday’s press conference that the hope is a two-week extension will be enough.

“We’ll have to wait and see,” he said, pointing out that at the moment the curve of new infections is still on the rise.

Boileau said that he has seen signs of people becoming less careful about Covid in general and encouraged the population to remain on their guard when it comes to limiting spread. Although the virus manifests like a bad cold in some cases, the public health director pointed out that people are still going to hospital, and some dying, on a daily basis.

“Living with the virus doesn’t mean forgetting about it,” he said.

Boileau also encouraged people to remain engaged with the province’s vaccination campaign.

As of Wednesday, April 6, people 70 and older who wish to will be able to get a fourth dose of the vaccine provided that at least three months has based since their third. That eligibility will be expanded to those 60 and up as of April 11.

“We’re not saying you absolutely have to go out and get vaccinated as soon as possible,” Boileau said, reiterating that vaccination is “an essential and solid tool” for preventing more serious symptoms while also emphasizing that it remains optional.

There were 1,479 people in hospital with COVID-19 across Quebec on Tuesday, an increase of 72 compared to Monday’s data. Meanwhile the number of people in intensive care remained unchanged from the previous day, at 69.

There were 31 new Covid-related deaths recorded across the province on Tuesday, for a total of 14,442 since the start of the pandemic.

Hospitalizations in the Eastern Townships jumped significantly on Tuesday, rising by 23 to reach 110, with five in intensive care. The region also reported its first new death linked to the virus in more than a week, bringing the regional total to 550.

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